Lisa Shaffmaster had already started her climb back from difficult times when she became part of the Prepared Foods staff at Weavers Way Chestnut Hill two-plus years ago. But her time at the Co-op has helped further enhance her life and that of her son, Gabriel, now 20.
Lisa, 62, grew up in Mt. Airy, the youngest of four children. Her father, Fred, worked in broadcasting (he was director of radio and television at the University of Pennsylvania) and became a professional actor after retiring from Penn. Her mother, Kate, was the resident director of Café Theatre at Allens Lane in Mt. Airy for over 30 years.
Lisa, an actress since childhood, made a living teaching acting part-time while raising Gabriel. But she had to take a pause from that when her parents both fell ill with congestive heart failure. With no one in the house working regularly, the family took out a second mortgage to make ends meet, but they were unable to keep up with the payments. After Kate died in 2011, Lisa lost the house to foreclosure in 2013.
At that point, Lisa had been out of the workforce for about four years. She managed to corral a job at Taste of Olive, a retailer of bulk olive oils, vinegars and other specialty foods in Chestnut Hill. But she really needed a job with benefits, and she landed one at Weavers Way in 2015.
Lisa knew Weavers Way founding father Jules Timmerman personally, from teaching drama to his kids. But the Shaffmaster family had never belonged to the Co-op.
“It was one of those things where a lot of our friends who lived near him were doing that, and we just kind of missed the boat,” she said. “But I have been aware of Weavers Way from the time the apocryphal apples were being sold from the apocryphal porch.”
Lisa and Gabriel now live in Chestnut Hill. With their finances in better shape, she’d like to put money toward community college for him. She attended Penn, majoring in folklore and anthropology, but fell short of getting her degree. So she’d also like to go back to college herself and get the year’s worth of credits she needs to finish.
In the meantime, she enjoys working at the Co-op, particularly with the cheeses. “It works into my folklore and anthropology background,” she said. “Every cheese has a story. It is the story of people and farmers and the land, and it’s a fascinating story.”
She also enjoys her coworkers. “I do like the personalities, mostly, of the people who work here,” she said. “They’re interesting. Everyone has a different road they travelled to get here. . . . The people here are really, really wonderful to interact with. . . . it keeps it good every day.”
Ultimately, Lisa would like to go back to teaching acting, and get back onstage as well. “I need to find the actor in me, and if I have a goal for the last area of my life, it’s to rediscover the actress that I am, because that’s who I am,” she said.