The Cliff Family

Optimism and overcoming adversity tell the story of Kenny and Traci Cliff.

That Habitat for Humanity in Bloomington is helping support those things amazes the couple.

Habitat family stories typically follow a similar pattern. Sometimes it’s lack of regular work or credit. Often it’s health issues and family crises. Always it’s trying to escape unsafe living conditions. For the Cliff Family, it’s ALL of those and more.

Kenny’s years of one construction job after another on the road for a family business have taken a toll. For Traci, it’s her six excruciating back surgeries and managing constant pain. For the couple, it’s son, Drew (age 15), with special needs, and Traci’s married son, Kyle (age 26), fighting serious health issues. And every day, it’s fear of the next hazard in their crumbling mobile home. Yet, the couple still sees their glass half-full.

And they remember appreciatively the day they met Herb Ault, a Habitat homeowner since 2017. Says Traci, “For the longest time, we didn’t think we could qualify to be a Habitat Partner Family, but Herb convinced us to try.” They were accepted in July 2018. When their home in the Dodd Street neighborhood is completed in November 2019, the Cliff home will be a short walk from the Ault’s. Kenny adds, “Drew is so excited because he and his best friend – Herb’s grandson  – can get together easily anytime they want.”

When asked what they do for fun, Traci talks about attending craft shows where she sells jewelry and knitted and crocheted items she makes at home. Kenny likes to hunt and take Drew fishing. And Traci talks excitedly about working with her sister-in-law and others at a festival near Ellettsville that helped a big group of kids learn to care for and ride horses, as she did for many years as a youth. “That was so special!”

Among their required Habitat classes on home ownership and money management, a special yoga class stands out for Kenny and Traci. “It has helped us learn to deal with problems as they come up without stressing out,” they said.

Traci and Kenny particularly credit her sister, Tricia, with helping them keep a roof over their heads through the hardships, along with Traci’s mom, Georgeanna. And they point to several Habitat staff members, especially Erica Riggs and Rebecca Mankowski, for helping them navigate the Habitat process. Kenny, with his years of construction experience, is looking forward to becoming a new crew leader for Monroe County Habitat.

“We’re excited that we’ll soon be living near friends and where neighbors can help each other,” Traci and Kenny say. “Habitat is making that happen for us.”