Leisa Porter spent two years as community manager at Seachange Emerald Lakes but in November the call of family drew her back to her home city of Toowoomba. She took up the position of community manager at Seachange Toowoomba in November, joined by husband Rodger, as facilities manager, and Ziggy the (cavoodle) as site manager, she joked! “We originally come from Toowoomba and we made the move back here mainly for family and the love of the country feel,” Leisa said. “Two of our children, Nikohl and Kieran live in Toowoomba and Lauren lives not far away in Brisbane. Our four grandchildren also live here with two COVID babies, Flynn and Evi, born last year. “I also wanted to be closer to my parents, especially as my father fell ill last year.”
The couple transformed their lives a few years ago. Rodger had been a FIFO worker for many years and the couple decided it was time for a career change. They bought a caravan and both did a Certificate III in Tourism and went on to manage a residential and tourist resort on the Sunshine Coast for three years. “We had been apart for so long we decided we wanted to work together. It was pretty funny because I’d been working in admin since I was 15, and Rog was a mechanical engineer. So I worked in the office and he worked in the field,” Leisa said. “We complemented each other, and the arrangement proved to be quite successful.”
At Seachange Emerald Lakes they lived above the community centre and Leisa said had ‘a wonderful time’ getting involved with the community and running different activities. “Because I’m from Toowoomba, the flower city, I started the first Flower Fest there. What I found on the Gold Coast was it was all palm trees and greenery, but no flowers,” she said. “So I started the Flower Fest and it was a real highlight for me because it was during COVID and the residents had a lot of fun creating different things. It gave them a purpose and something to do. I’m pretty sure they bought out all the flowers in Bunnings. “Toowoomba is different to Emerald Lakes, which is a fully completed resort. The community here is still growing so I am actually working across sales and community management. “And because of Roger’s engineering skills, he’s enjoying watching it develop and liaising with different contractors on the site, and of course Ziggy is the site supervisor and goes to work with Rog every day.”
Leisa has big plans for community events at Seachange Toowoomba starting with a flower display to rival any in the city during the September Festival of Flowers. “I’m hoping to get the residents involved to do a display at the grand entrance at the front gates. I want people to drive past here and wonder what’s behind the gates. We may not pull it off this year, but it’s definitely on the cards.” She also plans to introduce yoga classes and “Guess who’s coming to dinner” with residents hosting dinner parties and guests they possibly don’t know attending. “No one knows where they are going for dinner or, if you are the host, who will be coming. It’s a great way to meet new people and get new residents mingling with the existing residents. It’s lovely that the residents can have conversations with people they might never have spoken to before and it’s a great community building exercise,” she said.
She has already organised a fashion parade with a designer who designs for the over 50s market and there’s plans for more. “There will definitely be a full calendar of events,” she said. “The community spirit here is high and, as we are still growing, it is only going to get stronger.”