MANITOWANING – This time of year, Lisa Hallaert would be busy organizing the Northeast Town’s Volunteer Week appreciation wine and cheese event in her role as events co-ordinator for the municipality, but this year she’ll be forced to take a break and instead reflect on her own good deeds in her Assiginack community.
Ms. Hallaert moved back to her childhood Manitowaning home seven years ago after raising a young family in Thunder Bay. While she admits to not being a volunteer in the city, perhaps it’s because she was the busy mother of two young boys, she said she got the volunteer itch as soon as she moved home.
Volunteerism runs in Lisa’s family. Her father Bill Moggy was a charter member of the Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club and uncle Hugh Moggy has been a volunteer extraordinaire for decades in Manitowaning.
Ms. Hallaert is currently the president of the Southeast Manitoulin Lions, vice president of the Assiginack Horticultural Society and a director with the Manitowaning Agricultural Society. When she’s not busy with these groups, the Hallaert family is known for organizing other community events, like the Manitowaning cleanup where residents are encouraged to get outside and clean up the streets of the town, as well as the parade of lights held each December and which just marked its seventh anniversary.
With club activities and meetings on hold for the time-being, Ms. Hallaert is now busy helping elderly family members run errands.
Ms. Hallaert’s rise to president of the Lions Club is a whirlwind story. She joined the club during a time of great uncertainty and declining membership and, within a year, found herself treasurer, then treasurer and president at the same time, then president, where she remains to this day.
“I like the fact that we’re able to help the community,” Lion President Lisa said of the Lions Club. “It makes you feel good, and I try to tell my kids that all the time.”
When it comes to the Horticultural Society, Ms. Hallaert said her Uncle Hugh told her that the society was looking for new members. She acknowledged that the society’s average age is quite a bit older than she is, but she has always had a love of gardening and decided to give it a shot, and she’s glad she did.
“They are an amazing group,” she said of the Assiginack Horticultural Society. “They’re full of energy, ideas and knowledge and a joy to be around.”
Wearing her Manitowaning Agricultural Society hat, “I saw the numbers dwindling and thought, ‘why not?’ I’ve always loved the fall fair as a kid.” Ms. Hallaert said she’s proud to be a part of something with such a storied history, noting that it’s almost the same age as Manitowaning itself, which marks its 150th anniversary next year (and yes, she’s on the planning committee for that too).
Ms. Hallaert encourages would-be volunteers to try out a meeting for a local service club or organization to get a taste of what they’re missing and see what it’s like.
“There are lots of groups that need volunteers so help out when you can—it gives you a good feeling.”