News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters woman makes a difference

In the 11 years Shannon Rackowski and her husband Joseph have lived in Sisters, Shannon has touched hundreds of lives with one, if not more, of her gifts.

Looking at Rackowski, it is impossible to believe she is 70 years old. Her youthful, fit appearance belies her three near-death experiences and 13 surgeries. She is a walking (and dancing and exercising and decorating) testimonial to the benefits of regular exercise.

A mother of three grown daughters and grandmother of eight, she underwent hip replacement surgery five months ago and yet is currently teaching 18 senior fitness classes a week (Monday-Thursday), four to seven classes a day, both in her studio near Ray's Food Place and in several other locations within Sisters. Her classes range from improving balance to step aerobics, tai chi, and hula. She has been leading fitness classes for 55 years, 27 of those years conducting classes for firefighters.

Her fitness studio doubles as her office for ReDo, her home staging business, with which Rackowski helps home sellers get their property ready to put on the market. She has artwork, furniture, and other interior design materials which she incorporates into a client's home to be appealing to prospective buyers. One of her client couples decided to stay in a hotel after Rackowski staged their home, because she had done such a superb job, they didn't want to "mess up" the ambiance she had created.

In her "spare time," Rackowski does hula performances for a variety of events and celebrations, calling on her Hawaiian roots.

"If I can help anyone be physically healthier, or sell their home, or receive the love I portray with hula, then I am doing what I love," Rackowski explained.

All her life she has loved interacting with and helping babies and older people (kūpuna). She has also helped women throughout Oregon move forward from tragedy by "talking her story" about surviving and thriving. She began doing that during the 25 years she and her family lived in Newport, on the coast.

"That's what I want to do when I retire," Rackowski admitted. "I want to be a motivational speaker."

Rackowski's work involves stories, energy, and spirit. And she gives thanks every day for her blessings.

"I love what I do. It keeps me healthy physically. Hula fills my spirit, and interior design stimulates my brain," she explained. She also loves to cook for others.

"I like to make a difference every day," Rackowski concluded.


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