Cherri Morris is a remarkable individual with a genuine and caring heart, driven by an innate desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. So it’s no wonder when Cherri dreams about her future Habitat home, she dreams about lots of color: a bright and positive atmosphere that reflects her values, her personality, and her aspirations. “When I walk in my home, I want it to feel like sunshine—open and warm.”
Cherri’s understanding of the importance of finding light in darkness comes from her own encounters with adversities. Growing up in a challenging environment in Indianapolis, she faced hardships that could have easily discouraged her. However, Cherri’s father, who was a guiding force in her life, instilled in her the values of hard work and dedication before his untimely passing when she was 11 years old.
Despite the obstacles present in her rough neighborhood, Cherri learned to be self-reliant and developed a natural inclination to support and uplift others—a quality deeply ingrained in her character.
In 1997, seeking a family-friendly community to raise her four children, Cherri made the decision to move from Indianapolis to Bloomington. Her journey as a single mother further deepened her empathy and strengthened her commitment to creating a nurturing environment for her family and those around her.
“I love Bloomington because it is inviting. When I came, everyone made me feel welcomed. The school systems were really good for my kids—they played sports and got connected easily.”
However, as the seasons of life unfolded, Cherri faced various transitions. As her children reached adulthood and pursued their own paths, she found herself residing in Georgia while contending with significant heart conditions. Meanwhile, Cherri’s oldest daughter was confronting her own health struggles back in Bloomington.
Separated by distance and burdened with their respective health challenges, Cherri and her daughter faced a difficult and uncertain period in their lives. Ultimately, Cherri returned to Bloomington to be by her daughter and her four grandchildren. But in a tragic and heartbreaking turn of events, Cherri’s daughter lost her health battle, and the father of Cherri’s grandchildren also passed away, leaving Cherri as their legal guardian.
Due to the emergency situation, Cherri moved into the first Bloomington apartment she was approved for. The living conditions weren’t great to begin with and continued to deteriorate over time, along with the neighborhood’s safety, and the landlord continually neglected their responsibilities.
Cherri sleeps in one room, her grandson Maurice (14) in another room, and the three girls, Na’Ryah (15), Lillian (11), and Olivia (7) share a full-size bunk bed in the third room.
“We moved in and had already outgrown it,” Cherri says. “It was something I could get into at that time and it was a blessing. It still is a blessing because we have a roof over our head, but it’s really small and the kids don’t even go outside for play because it’s unsafe.”
Cherri immediately recognized the need for a more suitable, safe, and spacious home that could accommodate her family and provide a sense of stability. It was through a friend who had obtained a Habitat home that Cherri discovered the opportunity might be available to her, too. Despite doubting her chances of being accepted, Cherri decided to take a leap of faith.
“I never thought I could be approved for such a thing. I held myself back. But then I jumped out there. At the homeownership meeting, I listened and I said, ‘you know what? It’s time to go for it.’”
With a profoundly heartfelt recollection, she continued: “When I got the call [that we were accepted into the homeownership program], it was the happiest moment of my life because my grandkids deserve it. But you know what? I deserve it, too.”
The second happiest day, she says, will be when she gets the keys to the front door.
Involvement in Habitat’s homeownership program brings Cherri immense joy and fulfillment. Being able to assist other families in building their homes resonates deeply with her innate desire to help others and provides her with a sense of accomplishment. In addition, Cherri loves volunteering at the ReStore. She affectionately refers to it as “my spot,” as it is a place where she can truly be herself and make meaningful connections with others as they hunt for unique treasures.
Her grandchildren also find gratification from the program, eagerly participating in classes for kids and embracing the opportunity to learn and grow. “They love the youth classes and learning. The last time they went, they were shown how to fill out checks. That sparked their interest and curiosity. They just loved it. They’re always asking when the next class is.”
Cherri’s professional role at a nonprofit, where she helps connect people to careers, reflects her unwavering dedication to empowering and helping others. By assisting individuals in securing stable employment, Cherri recognizes the transformative impact it can have on their lives, enabling them to establish roots, support their families, and build a brighter future—much like she works to do with Habitat.
This coming fall, construction of Cherri and her grandchildren’s future home will begin in Habitat’s Osage Place neighborhood. This build marks the thirteenth year of partnership between Habitat, the Whirlpool Corporation, and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. This collaboration brings together a diverse group of individuals, including hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and alumni from the Kelley School, as well as volunteers and executives from Whirlpool. The upcoming construction of Cherri’s home not only signifies a physical structure, but also embodies the support and dedication of the community that has rallied behind her.
Cherri’s Habitat journey has been filled with hope and gratitude. She eagerly anticipates the positive changes that lie ahead and enthusiastically envisions the holidays, cooking her signature “big meals” on Sunday, and having a gathering space for her entire family—children and grandchildren alike. For Cherri, this next chapter serves as a powerful testament to the incredible rewards that await those who wholeheartedly invest their efforts, believe in themselves, seize opportunities, and actively work towards making a positive impact by uplifting others.
“In doing this, we’ll be able to feel safe. But it’s also a lesson that to get what you want in life, you have to put forth the effort, trust yourself and jump out there, and do it. For us, it will be a fresh start—to be able to make new memories around the community and in the comfort of our home.”
Cherri’s home is sponsored by the Whirlpool Corporation, in partnership with the Kelley School of Business.