People of housing security:
Bloomington Housing Authority Commissioner gives back to her community.
Growing up, Sherry Clay’s parents were deeply involved in the Bloomington community, and Sherry has continued that tradition. Her father worked at the South Central Community Action Program. Her mother worked at Monroe County United Ministries. Sherry has fond memories of helping with volunteer projects alongside her parents. They instilled in her the importance of caring about her neighbors. This value lives on in her today.
Later in life, Sherry moved to Bedford and was involved in an abusive relationship, feeling isolated from those around her. With the support of her sister, Sherry was able to break away and move back to Bloomington. “This is home,” Sherry said, “where my life started, most likely where it’ll end.”
Since coming back to Bloomington, Sherry has been living in the Crestmont neighborhood, known as Pidgeon Hill or “The Hill.” Sherry explained how the lack of affordable housing in Bloomington made The Hill her only feasible option. Sherry acknowledged the stigma that some people hold toward those who live on The Hill. “We’re just like everybody else,” she said. “We just want a safe place to raise our families.”
Sherry has served on Bloomington Housing Authority’s Resident Council for the past 8 years. She has held several leadership positions, including as treasurer and president. She also is a member of BHA’s Board of Commissioners, holding a seat reserved for residents of BHA housing.
However, in March of 2021, Sherry was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. During her initial diagnosis, Sherry took a step back to focus on her health. True to her character, Sherry didn’t let cancer stop her and is now in remission, allowing her to return to her work on the Resident Council and Board of Commissioners. She currently is vice chair of that board and is the first resident commissioner to hold that leadership position.
“i can’t give anything money-wise, but I can give my time”
Sherry enjoys helping run BHA’s weekly food pantry, as well as helping plan events throughout the year, including the neighborhood’s summer cookout and back-to-school bash. Sherry also enjoys learning about housing policies because it helps her have a greater understanding of why things are the way they are.
She helps her neighbors in other ways, too, listening to their needs and trying to help implement changes to improve the neighborhood. Many of those conversations happen while she walks around the neighborhood with her miniature dachshund, Tatorbug!
Sherry keeps a positive mindset. She values her family and close friends, as they’ve all had a significant impact on her life. On a bad day, she tries to remind herself: “This will pass, it’s only a bump in the road,” and she keeps going. Sherry credits her positive attitude to the people she surrounds herself with, emphasizing the importance of making sure you surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Sherry feels extremely blessed to be where she is now. She is always trying to “pay it forward,” which she does in part through her work with BHA. “I can’t give anything money-wise,” she said, “but I can give my time.”
Sherry Clay has faced adversity, but during the short time we were able to speak with her, she amazed us with her perseverance and strength.
About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.