Cheryl Manns is the mother of six: four sons who are in their twenties, a daughter who just graduated from high school, and a five year-old who has some special needs. She has spent most of her life raising them and the vast majority of that time doing it alone; she's done what had to be done, even if it meant traveling with a road construction crew for stretches of time.
When Habitat for Humanity offered to renovate an abandoned house for her, she saw a chance to pursue a dream of creating 'the family home;' and it turns out that she was up to the task. It was suggested that she create a master bedroom suite on the second floor, but she saw the wisdom of situating herself on the first floor instead so she could manage the household from there. All of her boys could reside on the second floor, she reasoned, and the space left over should be used to create a TV room and a computer room for them to share.
Family is what's most important to Ms. Manns, and the signs are everywhere to be seen. Pictures of family members are displayed, in maximum density, in different locations throughout the home. It's the main thing she talks about, and, if there were ever any doubt, it's even spelled out in words high on the wall: “Family – life's greatest blessing.”
It's a cozy home. Thought has clearly gone into the decorative choices. There's even a color scheme which shifts, every so slightly, as one moves from room to room. The yard has not been overlooked, either: plants, borders, and ornaments are clear signs that this house really matters to someone.
Now the owner of her own business, Manns continues on with the hard work, and new dreams continue to emerge in her mind. She explains her idea of the family home a little further: it's a place where all the generations can go for special occasions and holidays. When asked if there's anything else she might like to improve about the house, she offers that, "the front porch could be bigger . . ." And if you ask her about her thoughts on Washington Park’s future, she will describe her vision of a safer place where people are polite and cooperate with each other.
Cheryl Manns describes some of the decisions she made about how the house would be re-built.
Ms. Manns perceived a need in the neighborhood and talks about what she did next.
Cheryl Manns talks about how her home has become a gathering place for the whole family.
Cheryl Manns talks about how she helps clean up the community that she lives in.
Cheryl Manns (business owner), interview by Matt Lathrum, June 2014.