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A new beginning: MHA Secretary/Treasurer and Business Agent Angie Unger steps down after 35 years

By Shayna Wiwierski

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Executives may come and go, but the backbone of the Manitoba Hairstylists’ Association (MHA) for the past 35 years has been one person: Angie Unger.

Unger was originally hired on back in 1977 as the secretary/business agent for the association.

“I fell into it. John Unger [Angie’s husband] had been involved in the association for many years and told me that they were looking for somebody to fill the position; since my background was secretarial and office work, he thought that I might be interested. At the time I was expecting my first daughter and was planning on being a stay-at-home mom for a while, so I figured it would give me something to do part-time,” says Unger, who took the commercial course at Elmwood High School and later worked at an insurance company, a credit company, a law firm, and as a typesetter for the University of Manitoba Printing Department.

“I had two daughters, Danielle and Carly [now 34 and 31 respectively], and my youngest was four, so John suggested that perhaps I would be interested in taking the hairstyling course so that I would be able to work part-time in the salon [John’s the Hair Designers]; but I had always been interested in nails and we had a manicurist that was leaving, so it worked out perfect.”

Aside from manicures, pedicures, and waxing, as well as her and her husband’s personal business, Unger’s work for the MHA is two-fold. Her many duties include collecting membership dues, collecting for the Blue Cross Group Plan, paying bills, taking association-related phone calls, attending all the meetings, minutes, financial reports and the budget for the executive meetings and the AGM, coordinating info to put on the website and much more.

Over the past 35 years, she has many fond memories of the MHA; including helping organize complimentary hairstyling stations during the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999. She also is proud to have been involved in some of the competitions the MHA set up, the fundraisers and golf tournaments that were for charity, and the launching of the MHA’s official publication Clippings. Thanks to all her hard work, Unger was presented with the Outstanding Member of the Year Award during the MHA’s 2004 AGM.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all; I felt honoured to receive the recognition.”

Thirty-five years is a long time to hold a position, but Unger says she didn’t do it for the remuneration (the secretary/treasurer business agent is the only paid position in the association). She hopes that the MHA will keep thriving and continue to get new members, which has been a constant challenge for the 72-year-old association.

“Hairstylists must realize the importance of having an association to belong to. There are many stylists out there that present some creative ideas at their first association meeting and then you don’t see them again,” she says. “The more members you have, the more membership dues you have and the more money the association has to put on shows or classes. We don’t have a lot of fundraisers, we have one fundraiser which has been successful and that is selling Grey Cup lottery tickets, all of which money goes toward educational classes for our members.”

So what’s next for Unger? She plans on spending more time with her family, including her new granddaughter Teagan, and visiting her daughter Danielle, a teacher in Vancouver, more often. She will also be working at her business four days a week, perhaps taking some photography classes, and beginning some renovations at home.

She may have stepped away in August from a position she has held for the past 35 years, but Unger still plans on being involved with the association that she has seen grow since taking on the job in the ‘70s.

“I still plan on attending the meetings and stay in touch with the members. I have always looked forward to the social events such as bowling and barbeques. This is something I feel we need to get going once again. It’s one of the things I have enjoyed over the years, the social functions, as well as the educational classes.”

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