NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A mental health counselor who works at Liberty Hill Academy in North Charleston got a big surprise on Friday morning when she was told she received a national award.
Kayla Lewis is an employee with the State Department of Mental Health but works at Liberty Hill Academy and was part of the staff morning meeting on Friday.
She was shocked when her husband, mom and The Angaza Project founder, Jennifer Wiley, walked in. Lewis is the lead advisor for a girls’ empowerment program in Kenya with The Angaza Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower vulnerable women around the world.
“The program is bringing empowerment, exactly what it says it’s doing, what it’s supposed to do and bringing hope to young girls in communities that often don’t have the hope," Lewis said.
Lewis was awarded the 2019 Corporation for National and Community Service Award which honors people who have positively impacted communities while also inspiring others around them.
According to those who nominated Lewis, “she has given so much time and energy to building that program for teen girls in the Kibera slums. She not only helped raise some monies for the supplies, Saturday lunch, and our teacher pay in Kenya for the program, but she also authored the class activities and content. We did a survey of the girls’ empowerment in December for the participants that were there from May through December and the girls reported they felt more confident about themselves, made new friends in the program (which builds their support in school and community), and several commented they know they matter.”
Lewis fell in love with the area when she visited a few years ago. She worked to create sustainability for an orphanage and taught English. She now does all she can to help from afar.
“It’s a love that is a different kind of love,” Lewis said about visiting people in Kenya. “Them wanting you and how they feel when you come and help them.”
You can read more about The Angaza Project by clicking here.