What does it take to build a magazine from scratch? It begins with a dream but it also requires determination, perseverance, and a strong work ethic. Just ask Luigi Morabito, founder of Laval Families Magazine. In 2012, he turned his dream into reality.

Morabito’s educational background spans the disciplines of business administration, sales, and marketing. In 2007, he was consulting for the anglophone and allophone community in Laval but wasn’t able to find much English information. This lack of resources prompted him to create his own magazine that would cater to the English community.

Morabito meticulously conducted research for three years to test the viability of his idea. He organized surveys and focus groups in order to determine the needs of the community. The focus of the magazine emerged; instead of creating another media source that simply recounts “news,” crime stories, or politics, which can often be depressing, Morabito chose to focus on what he calls the “good shots.”

These good shots are stories that come directly from the community and highlight positive things people are doing. Morabito says, “In every endeavour, I strive to inform, educate, motivate and inspire. We’re all human, so the goal was to make the magazine more personal.”

Morabito hired a designer and some freelance writers and it all began to take shape. The magazine features various sections like health and wellness, education, seniors, and family life among many others. The bonus? The magazine has always been free to the public.

Laval Families was originally conceived for the Laval community as well as the lower north shore, but a lot of the information remains pertinent to other communities. Once Morabito developed an efficient flow for the magazine, he wanted to enlarge the scope of his dream. Since French is the dominant language in Laval, he wanted to cater to that audience as well. Once again, he conducted multiple focus groups to examine the needs and wishes of the community. Thus, the magazine Laval en Famille was born. It’s written in French and focuses on stories that affect the Francophone community. Both magazines exist in print and have corresponding websites with more information and resources. It’s a way to celebrate two rich and beautiful cultures.

Simply put, the goal is to give back to the community. For example, Morabito created The Young Authors Contest from scratch in 2012. This was a province-wide annual writing and publishing contest for students at the elementary and high school levels, culminating in an elaborate awards gala. It also established strategic partnerships with local businesses, providing educational and networking opportunities.

That endeavour was never about making money, it was about inspiring and helping children. To this day, Morabito still receives messages form parents or children themselves who have gone on to succeed in life and credit the competition in helping them become leaders in their respective fields. “When you help people, it’s not about the credit,” says Morabito. The idea is to put something positive out there, and somewhere along the lines, it ends up helping people and leading them to the next step in their lives. He adds, “Inside us, there’s a seed that hasn’t sprouted yet. But once you nurture, water, and fertilize it, it eventually sprouts.”

Throughout the years, Morabito and his team have created many other similar events and features such as the Teacher Appreciation Contest, the Family activity Expo as well as the ever-useful Spring/Summer Camp Guides. In addition, Morabito also produced and co-hosted Laval Families weekly television show segment in conjunction with TV Laval, which brought topics and special guests of interest to the community at large. He also founded The Festival Laval Laughs / Festival Laval en Rires in 2018.

All these efforts help the community in many ways. Many readers reach out and thank the team for particular articles that helped them. Morabito fondly remembers one of his favourite articles about a single mother raising two autistic boys that highlighted mental health. He also remembers a story about fibromyalgia that resonated with many readers. It’s about featuring stories that other media don’t often spotlight. “I like to write stories that have an underdog element, that give a spotlight to something important and can make a difference in people’s lives,” Morabito says.

But Morabito will tell you that Laval Families is a group effort. Throughout the years, he put together a reliable and dedicated team, from designers to writers to editors. The reputation of the magazine is so solid that it even survived the pandemic when many other businesses went belly up. It’s always been a fast-paced environment to be sure. Especially these days, you have to think and act quick. Morabito admits he doesn’t always have the answers, but he works tirelessly with his team to find solutions.

But even more impressive is the fact that the magazine continues to thrive despite the general decline in print media. Morabito is quick to point out that many people like to hold a physical magazine in their hands. In essence, Laval Families is a “coffee table book.” The issues can be kept as reference because a large part of the information has no expiry date. Melissa Mignacca, the current editor-in-chief, notes, “I believe that LFM is so important because it gives everyone a chance to access local resources online but also in print for those who do not have that access.”

What else is on the horizon? Since 2018, Morabito has been involved in eco-tourism and wildlife tour experiences here in Quebec as well as developing strategic partnerships in Canada and the US. Wolf conservation is his passion. His love for wolves began in 2017 when he made his yearly trip out West to the Rockies. He found himself in a wolf sanctuary and interacted with three wolves. The experience blew him away. A year later, he volunteered at a wildlife refuge and became very close to one wolf in particular. Although once perceived as malevolent animals, wolves are an essential part of our ecosystem and some species are on the brink of extinction.

This brought him to his newest project: the LUPO Wolf Sanctuary. The mission is to make the wolf and its major importance in Quebec and Canadian wildlife known, and to raise awareness about environmental issues. LUPO Wolf Sanctuary aims to offer educational content related to wildlife, endangered species and the larger environmental ecosystem, including forestry, soils, land, water, sustainable energies and climate change as a whole. The information will be shared and amplified both onsite and off-site via their education centre, which will facilitate educational workshops and outreach programs, creating awareness amongst local visitors and national/global tourists.

As with everything he does, Morabito seeks to make a difference and inspire, and this project remains close to his heart. The LUPO Wolf Sanctuary will open its doors in November.