5 questions with Paul Lewis
Paul Lewis is project manager for Caven Enterprises, and he coordinates the Dallas Tavern Guild’s annual PWA Christmas Gift Project for people living with HIV. The gifts are packaged by employees of Dallas’ LGBT nightclubs and distributed to nonprofit organizations such as the Resource Center of Dallas each year at Christmas for delivery to clients. A companion Christmas project benefiting Sam Houston Elementary School students is coordinated by Caven Enterprises operations/purchasing director Donald Solomon. A native of Iowa, Lewis has worked for Caven Enterprises for three decades. He moved to Dallas after completing a tour of service with the Army. In addition to the Christmas project, he is known for his longtime volunteer work helping stage the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.
How did you get involved with the PWA Christmas Gift Project?
I’ve been involved with it since day one when it started more than 20 years ago. Alan Ross [former executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild] started it, and when he died it sort of fell into my hands. I’ve been handling it ever since.
What is the importance of the project to the HIV service organizations’ clients?
It’s important because it gives them probably all they are going to get for Christmas. It’s so important to let them know someone is thinking of them during Christmas. They are glad to get something. Their eyes twinkle. They’re so kind and thoughtful. They’ll write letters later thanking us.
What do the bar owners and employees who volunteer for the project get out of it?
It gives you a good feeling to be giving to someone else. And it’s something everyone really looks forward to. It’s a time the bar people can get together from other clubs and chit chat and just have a good time. It’s always a good time. There are never any bar politics going on. It’s a fun thing all the way around.
What has been the response of the HIV service organizations?
Everyone has always been so appreciative. When Alan first started it, everyone was so surprised. Back then, there wasn’t much being done for the agencies. We solicited donations and made a success out of it.
Has the LGBT community supported the project?
We’ve given out many thousands of gifts over the years. The community has supported it well. It’s an opportunity for people who can’t give throughout the year to give to help someone else out. From year to year, the community has always been very good about supporting it. All of the clubs in the Tavern Guild donate to it.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 14, 2007