Community Member Spotlight: Maria Maldonado-Lewis
Maria Maldonado-Lewis is the definition of a powerhouse. She is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a community advocate, Community Engagement Manager for the office of Mayor Ben Walsh at the City of Syracuse and CEO of I Know I Can Radio. She does it all for two things: The love of family and the love for the Syracuse community.
Maldonado-Lewis shares the responsibility of caring for her mother with her brother Junior. Every other day in the mornings and at night, she heads over to care for her mom who has Alzheimer’s and Dementia. When she arrives at her house she gives her a bath, makes sure she has all her vitamins, dresses her and cooks for her, and preps meals for a few days at a time. She’ll also coordinate and takes her to doctor’s visits, and make sure she is happy and healthy
Her professional life as Community Engagement Manager for the City of Syracuse can be busy and stressful. Days can sometimes stretch until 8 p.m and many weekends depending on what’s going on. But for Maldonado-Lewis, it’s all worth it. “My passion is helping others become the best them. Providing families resources and a friendly face, so they will know it will be okay. That is why she enjoys her job and will pursue her Master’s Degree in Human Service. “ I love my job and this is just the beginning ”
After she gets home from work, her and her husband, Keenan Lewis, take turns cleaning and cooking and doing homework. Maldonado-Lewis is very family oriented, something she learned from her mother growing up. Before COVID-19 hit, she started a tradition to have Sunday dinners to keep the family together and help her mother stay connected with everyone. On most weekends, she spends time with her son Antwan Days, stepson, Kamari Lewis and her granddaughter, Mia Luna Days. They stay active, having fun outside, going for walks and playing basketball on warm days. They also enjoy cooking together as a family and especially enjoy outdoor grilling days. In the Winter they watch a lot of movies, eat a lot of popcorn and enjoy cuddling time.
When the children go to bed, her and her husband get to work on their goals, dreams and their radio program “I Know I Can”, a Community program that spreads positive news and resources for the local community. This year brings the 5th anniversary of bringing speakers from local agencies, companies, political organizations and testimonies directly from the residents themselves to address topics that matter to the community. Maldonado-Lewis is proud that the online radio show bridges cultural barriers, and gives a voice to those who may often go unheard. You can check out the “I Know I Can” radio program every Thursday live at 7pm or visit the Facebook page and check out all the past shows.
Asked why she believes in Syracuse, Maldonado-Lewis says it’s all about the community. “I am a lifelong Syracusian and see the love and support we have for each other during COVID-19 pandemic. I think Syracuse has potential to be the City that other Cities look up to for innovative ideas, collaboration and unity.”
Maria Maldonado-Lewis coordinates the City’s Youth Summer Employment program, Diversity and Inclusion team, Adopt-a-Block program, Flag Ceremonies, Naturalization Ceremonies, Civic Champions Awards, American Red Cross Blood Drives and the United Way Fundraiser for the City, and many more events for the public and city employees. She also serves on a number of local task forces and coalitions, including the Aging Services Coalition, Health Equity Task Force, Youth Summer Job Committee, Onondaga County Livable Community/Age Friendly Alliance, and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Committee. These communities and her colleagues rely on her for resources, empathetic support, unbiased views, encouragement and even prayers. She also provides constituents with appropriate Government and Community program information resources,provides a safe place to talk about their concerns and assist with possible solutions, create an inclusive atmosphere no matter what barriers that constituent may face.