Not All Highland Heroes Wear Capes
An excerpt from Alive in VaHi, Virginia Highland District's 2022 archival book
Lisa Hill is welcomed every morning by three large dogs bounding toward her, enthusiastically seeking some love. She obliges and sends them on their way for their morning routine. Her big love for her dogs is evident: Beau, a 16-year-old lab; Buckley, a loving sheepadoodle; Eastwood, an energetic newfiedoodle; and of course, they’re joined by her husband Jody.
She carries that affection through to her long-time neighborhood of Virginia Highland by caring for her neighbors, keeping the community healthy, and donating her time to make the lives of kids better.
Lisa moved to Virginia Highland 15 years ago from Dallas, Texas, to be with her husband, Jody. She immediately fell in love with the neighborhood’s walkability and the diverse shopping and dining options, but most of all, she loved the community feel.
“Now, I love how all of my friends are just a phone call away to grab a drink or tacos,” she said. “We’ve built such a great community here.”
Her friends reciprocate those feelings and describe Lisa as kind and generous, performing admirable, consistent loving acts of service to those in need.
Virginia Highland residents may remember the retired veteran, Paul, who posted up near Highland Woodworking for a few years. On her walks up to the corner of Highland and Virginia Ave., Lisa would always lend a helping hand to Paul, asking if he needed anything, in which he would often respond: “a 16 oz Coca Cola!”
After a few harsh winters and medical downturns, Lisa realized Paul needed some extra care. She was able to connect with his family and started learning more about his backstory, finding out he was a military policeman.
With Lisa spearheading the mission and help from the neighborhood, along with Officer Sweet, Paul was transferred to Grady Hospital to receive the medical attention he needed. He’s been living in an assisted living facility for two years now and is doing great, Lisa says.
“He loves watching the Braves and still asks me for his 16 oz Coke,” she laughed. “He’s reading a ton. I go and visit him every often and bring him McDonalds. He tells me about his days as a police officer and the cars he used to own.”
Lisa is no stranger to car talk. Lined up in her garage like shoes in a closet is her husband’s collection of Jeep Wranglers from a variety of years and colors. She takes her jeep, a 1985 striped cream Wrangler called “Daisy,” for spins in the neighborhood during the week.
Her home, which was recently featured in the Virginia Highland Civic Association Tour of Homes, now fits their many jeeps after a rebuild was completed in 2021. Lisa and Jody tore down their house in the same spot during 2020 and rebuilt it, preserving the original stonework and VaHi charm. They added a few modern features of course, including an elevator for their old dog, along with a pool and a hot tub.
Back in Texas, Lisa volunteered for the children’s hospital and wanted to find something similar to fill that space in her life. Loving working with kids, she reached out to Make-A-Wish Georgia and has been helping grant life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses ever since.
Alice Kaplan, the Volunteer Manager for Make-A-Wish Georgia, said Lisa has helped create hope for 65 local wish kids and their families. In the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances, Make-A-Wish Georgia volunteers walk alongside wish families, showing them they’re not alone, and creating hope for them when they need it most.
Kaplan said Lisa “is kind, creative, dedicated and intentional. She consistently does more than what is asked of her but does so humbly, not looking for accolades but simply out of a deep care of our wish families and a firm belief in the life-changing power of wishes, and she inspires everyone around her to do the same. She’s what we call a hope creator.”
Lisa has made trips to Disneyland possible, helped one kiddo meet John Cena, and even commissioned a custom Harry Potter tiny house for a super fan, complete with wands, floating candles, and Quidditch broomsticks.
“I learn a lot throughout the process too,” Lisa said. “It really puts things into perspective about how your day is going. It’s fun to see the smile on their face, which is definitely my favorite part.”
When Lisa isn’t volunteering or working, you can find her moving to the beat at a barre class or finding her zen at Highland Yoga, or working the reformer at a pilates class.
Lisa’s vibrant energy was a perfect match for her entrepreneurial endeavor as a Barre3 instructor after her 20-year long career in sales. After taking a class at Barre3 in Buckhead, she instantly fell in love and started her own studio in the basement of a church before opening a standalone business in Druid Hills. One of her favorite aspects of building and running the studio for four years was offering childcare for participants who brought their kids. She saw the need for both working moms and stay-at-home moms to have an option to care for themselves without having to worry about where to drop their kids and spending extra money to do so.
“We built a really cool Barre3 community,” she said, noting she sold the business to a client in 2019, Lisa explained, “It was a family. I still keep in touch with people. Clients would come in and say they had a terrible day, but this is an hour where they don’t have to think of anything else going on. You can spend an hour on yourself and refocus the brain.”
You can still catch Lisa as a guest teacher, occasionally leading Barre in the Park classes for VHDA.
On a typical weekend in the neighborhood, Lisa is grabbing a mimosa at Murphy’s, cruising through the neighborhood in her jeep, of cheersing her friends at Moe’s and Joe’s, but at the end of the day, she always loves coming back home to her three furry friends.