Terry Pollard is shown Monday inside his massage and wellness spa, Serene Relief Wellness, at 1401 Spring Bank Drive Building C.

Terry Pollard was 28 years old, working at Hardee’s, when the transmission went out on his car.

He couldn’t afford to fix it, so he lost his job and his place to stay.

Soon, Pollard was broke and having to couch surf at various friends’ homes.

“I just couldn’t get my footing,” he said last week. “I had been in Owensboro seven or eight years and I had kids. I had to do something. I told myself that I wanted to have a degree by the time I was 30.”

That’s the beginning of a story that continues with Pollard becoming a massage therapist nine years ago and owning Serene Relief Wellness, 1401 Spring Bank Drive, Building C, today.

But that’s not the end of the story, he insists.

Pollard said, “My ambition is to open a full-service spa where people can relax and use the whole facility — salt room, locker room, showers, steam room, sauna, lounge.”

And he would like to start a school to teach various forms of massage therapy.

Now, back to the beginning.

“I grew up in a group home in Louisville from 12 years old to 18,” Pollard said. “Then, I was put out on the street as soon as I turned 18. I didn’t have a lot of life skills. I had to develop those on my own.”

His family lived in Morganfield.

“I decided to go home and see if I could reconcile with my family,” Pollard said. “That didn’t work, but I met a lady from Owensboro. So I came here to visit and I never made it past Owensboro.”

But now, he was 28, unemployed and homeless.

“I went to Daymar College,” Pollard said. “I wanted to be a psychologist. But they didn’t have that program. They had just started a massage therapy program and I liked that it was a way to help people. So, I enrolled.”

He said, “I was still moving from place to place. I didn’t have a home. It was a struggle.”

But Pollard got his certificate in massage therapy.

“I wanted a degree,” he said. “While I was looking for a college, Daymar expanded their program to include an associate degree in massage therapy. So, I got my degree and I got my license. But I drove a cab for six months before I started practicing.”

He estimates that there are 20 licensed massage therapists in town.

Since then, Pollard said, “I’ve built a clientele of frequent visitors — those who come every week or every other week.”

He moved to his current location in December.

But early last year, Pollard got his courage up and started looking for investors in the spa he wants to open.

“I worked my courage up and called Jack Wells,” he said. “He met with me. Abbie Shelton helped me prepare for the meeting. She’s a great advocate for small businesses. Jack was so cool.”

The spa, Pollard said, is “something we don’t have in Owensboro. Jack and I were supposed to meet again last summer and then I heard that he died. That was such a loss. I’ve met with several other people since then. I’m holding on to my dreams. I still feel like the door might open.”

Today, he said, “I have a 16-year-old son, a 12-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old daughter. I’m blessed to be here. I’ve seen the rough side of life.”

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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