From Fortune 500 to volunteer, Lisa Boccia wears many hats in Windsor

By Calla Vassilopoulos -Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jun. 7, 2013
The Windsor Community Service Council Board of Directors tours FoodShare. The board members are (l-r) Ann Walsh, Sharon Gallant-Loucks, Cyndi Deshais, Tina Kokosa and Lisa Boccia, with Alicia Flynn, vice president & chief development officer of Foodshare. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The old expression, "wearing many hats," can only begin to describe the work of Lisa Boccia in the Windsor community. While some may know her as independent councilor, many others know her as the consummate volunteer who touches the lives of people in a variety of ways.

In 2004, Boccia made the decision to leave a well-paying job to pursue her real dream, or what she thought was her real dream. “I always thought I would run my own business,” said Boccia. “I just thought that was something I would do someday - be a business owner.”

Boccia began looking into buying a small company and in the process she came across volunteer work. Eventually, she spoke with her husband and they agreed their finances were secure enough for her to become a full-time volunteer and pursue her true passion – helping those in need.

Boccia began volunteering in Windsor, and the more volunteer work she did, the more people she met. The more people she met, the more she was able to help. “In a small town, people just know people, and they know the people that will help you,” said Boccia. “One of my problems, probably, is that I don't say no.”

Boccia is now a full-time volunteer and she belongs to several local organizations in Windsor. Aside from the Town Council, she recently began assisting Windsor Police Chief Kevin Searles with Ascend Mentoring, a program providing life skills to youth and families. 

One of Boccia's favorite acts of community service is sending care packages to military troops in Afghanistan through Windsor community television's (Win-TV) SEND Hometown Windsor to the Troops. The organization has sent monthly packages to service members who are relatives of Windsor residents since the program began eight years ago.

“In the last eight months Lisa has more or less taken over for me on Saturday mornings because my husband has been sick and I have not been able to do it,” said Committee Chair and founder Ann Walsh. “The fact that she is that kind of a person, willing to jump up to the plate and take it right over, has been wonderful. She is just a very proactive person.”

Boccia is also the treasurer for the Food and Fuel Bank, also known as Windsor Community Service Council and Citizens Assisting Residents Everywhere by Sharing (CARES). The Food and Fuel Bank is an organization responsible for providing basic necessities to Windsor residents. The community service group is centered around food and funds for Windsor families in need of oil, gas, or electricity.  The Food and Fuel Bank has provided other basic necessities to families and individuals in need, including funds for prescriptions, emergency vehicle repair, temporary bus passes and eviction prevention. 

“She does a great job and works really hard,” said the president of Windsor Food and Fuel Bank, Jane Garibay. “She's a hands-on person. She likes to jump in and actually do some work. After a storm she will help seniors pick up debris off their lawn, which is pretty unique.”

Boccia also serves as treasurer to CARES, a sub-organization of the Food and Fuel Bank, dedicated to helping individuals in a variety of ways. One service CARES provides is visiting people that are home bound, such as senior citizens, and bringing them gift packages.

“Its not a holiday or a birthday,” said Boccia. “It's just because we recognize some people don't have any visitors or any family. So, we just try to spread some cheer to people who otherwise wouldn't see people.”

CARES also brings hot meals to the homeless shelter in East Hartford and supports the Network Against Domestic Abuse by supplying some Windsor children with the necessities needed to go back to school as well as gifts at Christmas.

Last but not least, Boccia volunteers her time with Windsor Social Services' Hunger Action Team to actively work towards a solution to fight hunger. The team collaborates with Windsor Food Bank and Foodshare to providing nutritious food for Windsor families in need, especially school children.

The Mobile Foodshare truck comes to Windsor's L.P. Wilson Community Center every other Friday from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. and local volunteers, including Boccia, hand out bags of groceries to those in need. The truck is full of produce – eggs, yogurt, milk, and more - depending on what Foodshare has collected during the week.

While each organization has a unique way of helping the community, Boccia just loves the volunteer work. As she said, “I am fortunate enough to have the time to give back, not everybody has the time.”

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