Did you know the homeless shelter on Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo, CA was named after a resilient lady named Maxine Lewis?
Arriving in SLO county in 1959 with her husband and eight children, she went to work helping the elderly, infirm, and homeless in the community. In a Nov. 25, 1971, story, Lewis said: “As far back as I remember, I always wanted to work with people, to help people — especially children and old people.”
After a car accident rendered her unable to maintain her job as a nurse, Maxine overcame hurdles that would test the grit of a weaker person. One of her attempts to help an elderly woman with housework resulted in terrible racial slurs that cut deep. Despite the challenge, however, she was determined that there were people who would accept her offers of help.
In 1968, Maxine founded Grass Roots II, an assistance organization specializing educating people on their rights regarding better housing for lower-income people & housing for the poor. Child care centers, adult literacy classes and educational programs soon followed.
Maxine was named Citizen of the Year by Phi Delta Kappa for her outstanding service to schools and citizen of the month by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce for “humanistic and dynamic services to people in need.”
Her care and compassion for the community is summed up in this quote:
“We’re just trying to bring a little sunshine into someone’s life. Or just to let them know we care,” she said.
Follow our page to read more about inspirational women as we build up to our "Women of Note" concert on May 1, 2022!
Middlecamp, David. “The Story of Maxine Lewis, Who Strived ... - San Luis Obispo.” San Luis Obispo Tribune, 11 Dec. 2014,