Finding A Home: Kling, family put down roots at Manchester
Kevin Kling’s long days start early.
As a Manchester University custodian, he helps take care of the Physical Education and Recreation Center, among other areas, preparing the campus for each new day. While his job is usually done at 3 p.m., Kling’s daily duties don’t stop there.
The 2001 Indiana State University graduate is also working on a teacher’s license at MU while being a single father to three children.
It’s a rugged schedule that Kling maintains with “plenty of caffeine and 5-Hour Energy drinks.” But it’s worth it, he says, because his children have found a home in the North Manchester community and a second family with the people of the University.
Their home situation has done what Kling calls “a complete 360” since last year. After living in a rental house and then with his parents for a time, he moved the family into an apartment complex. It was crowded, so Kling checked out the Habitat for Humanity process.
“We’ve been (in the North Manchester area) for the past four years but haven’t ever really had a place to call home,” he said. “We were literally stacked on top of each other” in the two-bedroom apartment with three children, which includes Kling’s oldest son Micah, who uses a prosthetic right leg due to a birth defect.
Habitat for Humanity “has been incredible,” Kling added. “They met with us early on and could see the situation we were in, so we qualified for a new home. It’s been in the building process since September.”
A new residence on Fourth Street isn’t the only thing developing.
“Along with two student groups, we’ve had baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer, football and women’s basketball teams helping us out” with the home’s construction, he said. “If it wasn’t for what they’ve done, we wouldn’t be nearly finished,” Kling said in late January.
Some major parts of the house were done before the students pitched in, said Kling. “However, soccer built framing and put up walls. Women’s basketball did drywall and siding. Football did heavier lifting and so forth. Softball helped with roofing and siding.”
Other MU students pitched in on the project as well.
Help, in fact, came from everywhere. The Office of University Advancement staff chose the Klings as their “Christmas Family” and purchased kitchen and bath towels, bed pillows, utensils, silverware, kitchen glasses, a set of dishes, a general tool set, a small microwave, a coffee pot, a large crock pot and a gift for each child.
“We’ve had students stop over and check in on us, and, with my work on campus, I run into a lot of those same people and get a chance to talk them,” Kling said.
The feelings are mutual for the student-athletes.
“You could tell it meant so much that we were there,” said Jenifer Lee, a senior on MU’s women’s basketball team. “It was a lot of work, but it was great. Most colleges wouldn’t give you this chance unless it was in a major, but, at Manchester University, you have these opportunities in extra-curricular activities.”
The softball team “had been looking for chances to get involved with the community,” added Mallorie Jennings, a junior softball player. “Fortunately, some of the team members had seen posters around campus talking about this Habitat for Humanity project. We thought it’d be great to assist building a home” for an MU employee. “It was a good experience for the team. Most of us had never done anything like this before.”
“It was a process but well worth it,” agreed Jared Bourff, a junior on the Spartan football team. “Originally, we didn’t know the story behind the house we were working on, but getting to know (Kevin) and his family was the best part. He told us his story, and we understood how important (the project) was.”
“I still talk to Kevin whenever I see him,” added Jared, “so it wasn’t just about the community service side but developing another friendship.”
The family moved into their new home in February. “People don’t realize what the campus and University mean to me,” said Kling. “Megan (Flinn), my boss, has worked my schedule around,” he said. Even MU President Dave McFadden has stopped by and asked Kling how things are going.
“My life has done a complete 360,” Kling adds, “and a lot of it is due to Manchester University.”
By Mark Adkins
Sports Information Director
About Manchester University
Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,600 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training, a Master of Pharmacogenomics and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu.