By Jean Schurman
Lisa Wallace is not a military brat. In fact, none of her family have any military experience. But what she is is a patriotic American who isn’t content to give lip service to doing something for our country’s servicemen and veterans. Instead she has started new businesses, became involved with a local veterans group and just recently, funded a trip to Costa Rica for four veterans or active duty servicemen. She is currently looking for candidates for the Costa Rica trip which is scheduled for sometime between April and October.
In 2011, Wallace and eight other women founded the Homecoming Trunk Show Boutiques, with a portion of the proceeds going to military charities. The other women were from military families and gave Wallace the ‘in’ to learning about military charities and the needs of military families and servicemen. The Homecoming Trunk Show Boutiques are a direct marketing venue that offers trendy clothing, accessories and jewelry that can easily be transported from show to show, or moved easily when a military family is transferred.
It was while she was vendor at a local show that she met Rudy Smith, one of the founders of Buck Up for Wounded Warriors. Before long, Wallace and her family were volunteering, even after donating 10% of all of her vendor shows to the organization.
“Now, it’s a family affair with our 19 year old son, 21 year old daughter, and my husband all volunteering,” she said.
As if she doesn’t have enough going on, Wallace began another venture to give back last summer. She teamed up with a family friend, Larry Savage, to give a trip of a lifetime to four deserving veterans and/or active duty servicemen.
Savage has ties to the Marriott Los Suenos Resort & Marina in Costa Rica and will provide a deep sea fishing trip to the lucky vacationers. There will be a crocodile tour, a trip to the Manual Antonio National Park, a trip to a volcano, and a zip line tour through the rain forest canopy. A private vacation home has been donated for the trip. The men will have access to swimming pools, golf courses and a private beach club. The trip will be four nights and five days long with two days of traveling from Montana to Costa Rica.
While Savage has lined up the amenities and lodging in Costa Rica, Wallace has been busy here in the valley raising the money for the airfare for the last nine months. Donations have come in from friends, acquaintances, and even Berard Chiropractic of Florence donated proceeds from their patient appreciation days.
One person who donated was the late Ray McQueery of Stevensville. Wallace said she was very touched when he approached her last year to donate. “He said he thought it was despicable how troops were treated after Vietnam and that he wanted to help.” It was less than a month later that he passed away and Wallace still tears up when telling his story.
Now, the money is raised, the resort is waiting, and all Wallace needs are ‘a few (four) good men.’ She is looking for either active duty or Iraq and Afghanistan war vets to come forward. Wallace is hoping that by having just soldiers or former soldiers on the trip, they may be able to bond and have discussions they may not want to have when family and friends are around.
Wallace is having a bit of a time finding soldiers. She said although she understands the privacy issues that groups who deal with veterans have to adhere to today, she doesn’t understand why more aren’t jumping at the chance.
Those who are interested in being considered for the trip, or who know of someone who might like the trip, can email Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.