Lisa Grant – Mastermind Behind the Bayside Community Hub

Who is the mastermind behind The Bayside Community Hub? Lisa Grant, that’s who.

My experience of Lisa began when our youngest kids started in prep together and we joined a book club that primarily involved catching up and consuming a glass or two of wine versus deep book talk.  It was not long after that I learned about her work and the myriad of other activities and volunteer roles Lisa participates in. She is a mother of three, runs her own business and if that is not enough to fill a person’s day, she can also be found volunteering at her children’s primary school and high school as well as helping out on the committee at Mentone Life Saving Club.

Lisa has lived in the Bayside area most of her life having gone to Mentone Girls Secondary School before attending Swinburne University. Earlier this year (pre Covid-19), she was invited to return and speak at her high school to address the female students on International Women’s Day, where she got to share some of her life story and inspiring experiences.

Lisa displays a certain poise worthy of many strong and confident female leaders. I have witnessed her business prowess at play as she sits at the head of a school meeting with efficiency and clarity like any top Managing Director would.  She is also not afraid to make noise, to open a debate and sometimes be outspoken – especially when values, justice and ethics are the matters at hand.  I have also seen the softer side of Lisa when she is giving back and supporting and encouraging people around her because of her innate desire to help others.

In this interview, Lisa tells me about her love of ‘community’, Edinburgh and the women in her life that she truly admires.

What is the most important ‘value’ you base your work around?

The most important value I base my work around is “community“.  In 2005, I spent 6 months as a volunteer worker in Kenya and South Africa.  In amongst all the desperation and suffering I saw over there, the shining light that stood out for me was the sense of community.  No one was alone, no matter what they were facing.  Even in their darkest moments, they always had someone by their side.  I try to provide that sense of community through my work.  I believe that if we can support local businesses to thrive, not-for-profit organisations to be more visible and utilised effectively and help people living near each other to be connected and supported, then we can build an amazing community together.

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What are your tips for surviving Covid-19?

My biggest tip is to go-with-the-flow.  My background is in Project Management, so the need to plan is ingrained in my blood, but I must let that go right now.  We don’t know what is going to happen in the next 24 hours, let alone the next 12 months so I am just making the most of each day, focusing on the positives, and reminding myself that this will pass. 

If you could choose 1 place to visit in the next 12 months, where would it be and why?

I would choose Edinburgh.  We had a holiday planned to the UK and Europe in June of this year which we have now had to cancel for obvious reasons!  The main motivation for our trip was to take my eldest son back to Edinburgh where he was born 13 years ago.  It holds a special place in my heart, as it was my home for 6 years in the early 2000’s. I would love to give him the opportunity to connect with his birth country, given he was only 14 months old when we moved back to Australia.

If you could write a book, who would it be about and in which genre? 

My parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so I spent a lot of time as a child entertaining myself and books became one of the most important things in my life. My favorite authors were Enid Blyton, Virginia Andrews and Judy Blume.  Unfortunately, I just missed out on the Harry Potter craze in my youth, but that is the genre (fantasy fiction) I would choose if I could write a book.  It would be targeted at the 10-13 year-old age group, a fantasy story that would transport them to another world, full of adventure, excitement and possibility. If I was an author, I would love to inspire other kids, just as I was inspired by the wonderful books I read as a child.

Name three other women you admire and explain why.

My mum came from a difficult background, married young, and didn’t really have much of a career when she first started out.  Despite those setbacks, she battled her way through life and always contributed to the household income where she could.  At one time I remember her sitting at the kitchen bench for 12 hours a day sewing steering wheel covers onto steering wheels.  It took her over an hour to finish just one and she earnt about $1 per wheel, but she did it anyway because we needed the money.  Luckily, she was a very intelligent woman and she eventually went back to TAFE and studied to become an accountant.  It was a struggle.  She often worked until 3am completing school assignments alongside working part time and raising my sister and me.  She got there in the end though and I am so proud of her persistence, determination and amazing work ethic.  Unfortunately, she passed away in her early 50’s, so didn’t have the chance to enjoy her new career for very long, but I know she was glad that she achieved that goal. 

My sister has faced so much adversity in her life, struggling with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since her diagnosis in her early thirties. She suffers a lot with the pain and uncertainty of it all, but she just gets on with life as best she can and makes the most of it. She has sacrificed a lot along the way as a result of her illness, but she manages to stay positive and never wallows in self-pity, always makes time to help others, is caring and thoughtful, and a great role model to my kids. She has a great job, fantastic friends, and has built a great life for herself that I am very proud of. 

My business partner Nicki Lloyd approached me in the early days of starting my business and offered some free services to create a website.  I didn’t know her from a bar of soap back then, but little did I know that she would become my rock over the years to come.  I couldn’t have chosen a better business partner if you had handed me a thousand CV’s to choose from! She is strong, determined, loyal, sensible thoughtful and extremely intelligent.  She is a great sounding board, willing to consider some of my crazy ideas but equally able to tame them down a notch or two as they can sometimes challenge her more cautious nature.  She has faced some difficult personal setbacks in her life, suffered a lot of pain but yet again, like the other strong women I admire, she too tries to stay positive and make the most of things, no matter how bad they might be.  I love working with her and wouldn’t have made it this far in my business without her inspiration and wisdom.

So far Lisa has co coordinated significant fundraising activities amounting to nearly $30,000 that have been directly donated to various Bayside organizations such as Sandringham Hospital, Family Life, Matt’s Kitchen, Will Murray, Bushfire Relief and Team Sport 4 All.

The Bayside Community Hub platform continues to support thousands of community members and hopes to launch their next fundraiser later this year.