BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Among the thousands of fans flowing into Memorial Stadium for Indiana University’s football game, the word “homecoming” will have special meaning for one Bloomington family.
While homecoming is a tradition of welcoming back alumni and friends, for Cherri Morris and her four grandchildren, it will be remembered as the day they received the keys to a home of their own. As part of Homecoming Weekend, they will join leaders from the IU Kelley School of Business, Habitat for Humanity and sponsor Whirlpool Corp. at the official groundbreaking for their new home.
An official groundbreaking and celebration will take place at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 21 at the building site in Osage Place, Habitat’s third neighborhood in Monroe County. The public is welcome to attend. The day before, students, faculty and staff from IU and the Kelley School along with Whirlpool employees will begin building the home through Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County.
This will be the 13th house constructed since the collaboration with Whirlpool Corp. began in 2010. Nearly 3,000 IU students, staff, faculty, and alumni have come together to build the previous homes alongside Monroe County families. About 245 people are expected to volunteer this year. Morris’s new home will be one of 250 climate-resilient and energy efficient homes built through the BuildBetter with Whirlpool initiative.
Local and national Habitat representatives will be joined at the build and groundbreaking event by volunteers, campus leaders and several current and retired Whirlpool Corp. executives. The executives include those with strong ties to Kelley, such as retired CEO Jeff Fettig, who earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from IU before joining the company in 1981.
Morris and her grandchildren will symbolically receive keys to her home after the event, on the field at Memorial Stadium before IU’s homecoming football game against Rutgers University.
Many students participating in the build are involved with the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, which serves as a hub within the school for socially conscious undergraduate students who want to make a difference in local and global communities through education, service, career development and leadership opportunities.
“This build highlights the values that we stress at the Kelley School and we appreciate the impact that our students, faculty and staff will have on a local family,” said Ash Soni, dean of the Kelley School and the Sungkyunkwan Professor. “Whirlpool Corp. is one of today’s most socially responsible companies. This experience provides our students with an excellent example to see how a company’s commitment to principles can improve quality of life for others.”
“It’s an honor and a privilege to return to Bloomington for the 13th year to work with Habitat for Humanity and the IU Kelley School of Business to serve this community,” said Pam Klyn, executive vice president of corporate relations and sustainability for Whirlpool Corp. “Our 24-year relationship with Habitat for Humanity enables us to help provide affordable places to live for families like Cherri’s, and to support resilient and sustainable communities.”
For Morris, who became legal guardian to her grandchildren after the deaths of their parents, the new home will enable her to relocate to a safer neighborhood and not need to live in a rental property where her landlord neglected to make repairs.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Families qualify for the Habitat program based on three criteria: need for housing, ability to pay back their affordable mortgage and a willingness to partner. Each adult member living in a Habitat home must invest 250 hours of volunteering, called sweat equity, before closing on their house. Each home in Osage Place, on the southwest side of Bloomington, is energy efficient and built to net-zero energy capability, including being solar ready.
“We look forward to this special build each fall and are excited to once again partner with the Whirlpool Corporation, Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business,” said Wendi Goodlett, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County. “Partnership is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that collaboration fosters deeper connection and greater commitment, not only among our Habitat families and volunteers but also within our communities and city. So, while we engage with KISI throughout the year, the arrival of new groups of IU students, staff, and faculty holds a unique excitement for us as we build together.
“Cherri’s Habitat journey embodies hope and gratitude. Every nail hammered, every wall raised, and every shared moment among Whirlpool executives, fellow volunteers, and homeowners builds homes, community, and hope,” Goodlett added.
Whirlpool Corp. and Habitat for Humanity have partnered for 24 years to build a better world where families have access to safe, decent and affordable housing. As of September 2023, Whirlpool Corp. has donated more than $125 million in appliances to Habitat since 1999, including ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves for Habitat homes in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and Latin America. This donation has helped serve over 1 million people around the world.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the building site on Bernard Drive, west of the intersection of Rockford and Rogers roads and adjacent to RCA Community Park, 1400 W. RCA Park Drive, where parking will be available.