Happy-go-lucky people aren’t merely lucky – they’re happy and optimistic. Even when things go sour, happy people can proactively make the best of any situation and will draw in other positive people in the process. And once in a while, we are lucky enough to meet someone as strong as this, especially when his/her strength is a powerful resiliency coming from within. For me, it happened when I met Lori Massad-Koska of Keep Austin Well.
Lori has accomplished a lot. Seven years ago, she opened Total Wellness Austin, which provides various services from personal trainers to acupuncture to mental counseling and everything in between. She has also created Keep Austin Well, a non-profit that hosts a 5K race every year to raise funds for other local non-profits in need. However, her story is far from being as simple as becoming a business owner and non-profit founder. Lori is a survivor of domestic violence.
Two years ago, Lori decided to get out of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship of many years. In an interview with KTBC FOX 7, she said, “Even though I was going to leave someone who was going to hurt me, to actually put my stuff in a bag and walk out of my house and know that I had to stand up for myself was absolutely petrifying.” But Lori still had the courage to leave. After this experience, local community members stepped up to help her build Total Wellness Austin by providing services such as painting walls and donating funds. Having so many people help her establish her business gave Lori a passion to give back to the community. She founded Keep Austin Well not only to address domestic violence but also to thank the community that empowered her.
Lori now wakes up every morning and can’t believe where she is right now with her success. She thinks she’s one of the luckiest people in the world and has so much gratitude for her community and family for her life now. In fact, her company has recently been chosen by Austin Independent School District to provide wellness programs to its employees. ”There aren’t many people who are doing what they were put on Earth to do,” she says, but she believes that she is. She also makes sure that everyone around her feels the same way. For example, at a recent staff meeting, she gave everyone a whistle to blow at anybody who might be creating a downwards shift in energy (not that it happens often). It serves as a reminder that they’re not there to bring in personal problems, but instead to help others and to always maintain an upbeat attitude. She is also looking to eventually serve on the City Council so she can have another outlet to help others. ”It’s all about supporting each other in the community no matter what you’re going through,” she says.
As we were wrapping up our conversation, Lori added, “This [organization] wouldn’t be here without [my staff], without the Austin community, and without my family. There’s no way. They are why Keep Austin Well is what it is.” But although Lori insists that a large part of her success is due to the people around her, I believe that a lot of it also has to do with her own admirable boundless passion and drive.