Cheri’s back straightens with pride when she lists her accomplishments as a single mother. “My goal when I got clean,” she says, “was to own my own home before I turned 40.” With incredible determination and help from Kittitas County Habitat for Humanity, Cheri will add that goal to her many other achievements when she moves into her Stuart Meadows home. Cheri is currently living in a tiny, moldy, subsidized apartment with her disabled mother and two children, a 16-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl.
Like many in her generation, Cheri struggled with drug addiction from age 17. But when she had to give up her infant daughter because she was using, Cheri decided she was done with that lifestyle and went immediately into treatment. “I went from being homeless, with no car, no job, and no license to getting my own apartment, a car, and my license. Now, with a decent job my credit score has improved significantly. I have my daughter and I’m doing pretty good.”
Cheri has earned her new status the hard way, working nights as a health care housekeeper from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Then she goes home to sleep a bit and takes her daughter to school.
With encouragement from her mom and a high school friend, Cheri applied to Habitat, though her first application was denied, because it used her mother’s poor credit rating. Undaunted, Cheri tried again using her own credit rating. “When they called me to say I’d been chosen for a home I was so excited. Words can’t describe how I felt.” She says the process was simple; she encourages anyone in need to apply.
Cheri acknowledges that her previous lifestyle was hard on her children, especially her son. And she hopes that having a home of their own will provide stability and confidence to the whole family. Her son, who suffers severe social anxiety, is excited about helping to build their new home during the family’s “sweat equity” hours.
How will life be different for Cheri in Stuart Meadows? “I’ll feel more like an adult having my own home. I’m just hoping that getting this home will help me accept how far I’ve come, and that I never have to go back to the lifestyle I was living.”