Art meets compassion
New art gallery to open at Good Life Coffee House
It’s the good life. That’s what everyone says, and today, Lisa Howe is getting a slice, rather, a cup of the Good Life since her small coffee shop, Good Life Coffee House, has expanded into the old bank building at the corner of Ind. 32 and Union Street.
Howe opened the coffee house in June and experienced a stall of businessthat almost ended the dream.
“People didn’t know we were here. They think we just opened, and I’ve been here for nine months and almost had to shut down,” Howe said. “I went from thinking about closing my business to expanding into a bigger space. I wanted this space all along, so I took a huge leap of faith. If I hadn’t, I would’ve always wondered why I didn’t.”
Opening a business can be a life-consuming process, but so can being a second-year medical student. Howe is both. She opened the summer after her first year of medical school and saw the opportunity as one that would help her balance stress and sanity.
“This is my place to relax; my after-school hangout. I come in and drink coffee and do my homework here, just like some of my customers. It’s homey and cozy,” Howe said. “It’s my little slice of heaven.”
However, Howe isn’t interested in keeping that slice all to herself. She’s sharing it with local artists and musicians. Howe said City Council member Rob Stokes asked her about her plans for the building’s upstairs.
“Lisa has been gracious and invited me into her home here, and with that,she created a multifaceted place where people can listen to live music Friday nights, look at art for sale and drink hot cocoa,” Stokes said. “We also want to inspire young children,too, so we’ll have a wall for middle school students to sell their art. To introduce a new generation is something we’ll be able to do here.”
Howe’s passion for inspiring children doesn’t stop at the doors of Good Life Coffee House.She is studying pediatric oncology at Indiana University-Indianapolis, and said her love for youth stemmed from an unexpected place.
“I didn’t really get a childhood, so I want to help children have a good childhood no matter how bad the circumstances,” Howe said.
Howe, who has five children with her husband, said she ended up raising her siblings from a very young age.
“My parents got divorced and it wreaked havoc on our family. My mom had to work a lot and my dad wasn’t around a lot,” Howe said. “My friends were going to concerts and doing fun things; they were being kids. I was doing house stuff.”
Howe said her husband often says saving the world is Howe’scalling, someone who won’t give up if it helps others. Although Howe sacrificed her youth to children, she said her love for children just expanded.
“I went to medical school to help kids be healthy and feel better, but a doctor’s ability to help children is limited,” Howe said.“I’m involving kids in the art gallery for a different social environment for kids in Westfield,” Howe said.
Howe said her two lives of business owner and medical student has allowed her to achieve an endless support system for kids.
“There’s a lot of sad in the world. I’ve seen children who have inspired me die. I’ve seen children go through terrible things, but they continue to smile and shine,” Howe said. “People sometimes turn their heads and act like it’s not there, but I want to be the person who looks at an unhappy child and improves his or her life, that’s how I want to make a difference.”