by Louise E. Wright
What do you do when your unexpired passport begins to fill up? Lisa Hogan knows the answer: return it to the Department of State to have additional pages sewn in. The Chestnut Hill resident will soon become the bearer of one of these oversize documents.
Since retiring from the mental health field in 2008, Hogan, 64, has traveled to 24 countries, 14 of them during a three-and-a-half month cruise around the world. She has toured the Great Wall of China, sailed through the Panama Canal and gone on safari in South Africa.
As befits a recently elected board member of Weavers Way Co-op, Hogan enjoys savoring the flavor of local markets on her travels. In Iran, she points out, “You might find a prayer rug” and some “sticky candy” displayed “next to a goat’s head” while in Japan, she cautions, “Sometimes the food is still moving on your plate.” She credits Morocco with “the wildest markets,” bizarre bazaars where “Monkeys are crawling on you while you’re looking at saffron.”
Hogan’s travels testify to her belief that “sharing food and drink” promotes “communication and healthy relationships.” On a recent visit to Amsterdam, Hogan dined in a private home, an event arranged through the website EatWith.com. The organization unites travelers and local hosts who come together for food, fun and conversation. Hogan plans to repeat the experience on an upcoming tour of Spain and Portugal and to sign up as a host, “the first one in Philadelphia,” she announces enthusiastically.
Less of a pioneer at Weavers Way, Hogan nevertheless joined long before the co-op stocked pre-packaged poultry and seafood in refrigerated cases. She remembers when volunteers had to bag the chicken and fish and sell it from “camping coolers.”
Enticed by “good food bargains” and the opportunity to meet people, Hogan became a member of Weavers Way 35 years ago while living in Germantown. “I loved the shopping experience over going to big supermarkets,” she explains.
A native of Darien, Connecticut, Hogan first came to Philadelphia while a junior at DePauw University for an “urban semester.” This program, now known as The Philadelphia Center, combined a practicum with lectures on such topics as politics and racism. Hogan worked at a halfway house for alcoholic males in Germantown. The experience led her to the realization: “I’m pretty good with this, and I should stick with it, put myself out there and help people.”
Because of the contacts she had made during that semester, Hogan returned to the city in 1971 after graduating with a degree in sociology. For two years, she worked as a therapist in the evening program at Hall Mercer Community Mental Health Center. In 1974, she received a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University.
For 35 years, Hogan worked in non-profits that served the mentally ill. While she began by providing direct care in outpatient, inpatient and residential facilities, she ultimately took on administrative duties. In 1996, while Program Director at Seasons, a long term residential program still active in Chestnut Hill, Hogan nominated her staff for a Chestnut Hill Community Association award. She explains that she “wanted to recognize them because they were so committed and devoted to their patients.” To her delight, Seasons staff won the Meritorious Award, the association commending them for “making life better for residents of Chestnut Hill.”
During the last 10 years of her career, Hogan administered 25 residential programs, a responsibility which required her to be on call 24/7. “My job was everything,” she remarks.
Despite the demands of her career, Hogan found time for other activities. She was a volunteer board president of a day care center. She volunteered as an officer and sport commissioner with the Chestnut Hill Fathers’ Club, now Chestnut Hill Youth Sports. Having played softball growing up, she wanted her daughter, Tara, to have a similar opportunity. “At that time,” Hogan explains, “Chestnut Hill didn’t have a softball program that would span my daughter’s grade and high school years.” She solved the problem by initiating a girls’ league and acted as secretary, softball commissioner and, assisted by son Tristan, softball coach.
Hogan also became involved in the J. S. Jenks Home and School Association. In fact, a desire to enroll her children in the school prompted the family’s move from Germantown to Chestnut Hill 29 years ago. A firm supporter of public schools, she believes in using “what’s here and what’s available. I don’t like the idea of cleaning off the best students and leaving public schools to the less bright. Everyone benefits from having good students in class.”
Today Hogan remains active at the school, helping out with a Weavers Way-sponsored program called The Market Place. The co-op provides “healthy snacks,” which the children in the program package one day and offer for sale to schoolmates the next. They pay Weavers Way back from the receipts and donate their profits to charity. The Market Place, Hogan emphasizes, provides opportunities to learn about such concepts as healthy eating and recycling.
Since retiring, Hogan has made up for lost time. She has also volunteered for Red Cross blood drives, WHYY fundraisers and political campaigns. During the Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign, she did volunteer work for Allyson Schwartz.
In addition to Spain and Portugal, Hogan is looking forward to visiting Iceland. Of herself and her husband of 40 years, Michael (they have two grown children and three grandchildren), she declares, “We’re doing as much as we can.” Given such determination, she may well need even more pages added to that passport.
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