Cheryl Rhead

Humboldt

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Cheryl Rhead, of Humboldt, stands on the deck of a recently finished home in the Eagle Ridge housing subdivision.

HUMBOLDT — When Cheryl Rhead served on Humboldt’s city council in the mid-1990s, a lack of housing was seen as the city’s biggest barrier to growth.

“Housing was very limited at that time,” she recalled. “It was a collaboration between people in our community that wanted to see us move forward and serving on the city council, housing became my area of focus.”

Rhead said her involvement in city government was valuable.

“Everyone should have to serve in a government capacity to gain a better understanding of how things work,” she said. “You have to work together as a team and not lose focus of the big picture.”

In 1997, the Humboldt County Housing Development Corporation was formed and Rhead has served on its board ever since.

The HCHCD has assisted with multiple developments, including Humboldt’s most recent housing addition, Eagle Ridge.

Eagle Ridge is subdivision north and east of Elmhurst Avenue. Homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range have been built and sold there.

The HCHCD purchased 71-plus acres of land in 2012 to develop Eagle Ridge. Phase 1 had 22 lots. Phase 2 had 16.

Rhead said the progress took time.

“The growth in housing didn’t happen overnight,” she said. “It’s been 20 years in the making.”

One of her biggest passions, she said, has been Humboldt’s building trades program.

The HCHCD along with Iowa Central Community College and the Humboldt Community School District established the building trades program in 1999. The students involved in that program through the years have built 16 different projects.

“Many of the past students have their own businesses today, working as contractors, engineers, plumbers,” Rhead said. “Utilizing those skills in day to day lives in their own homes.”

Rhead, who grew up in Monroe, moved to Humboldt in the 1970s with her husband. Soon she settled into a career in banking.

She began working at First National Bank in 1977. The bank has changed names a number of times. Today it is called U.S. Bank.

Rhead also worked for 13 years at Bank Iowa and four years at First State Bank.

She found that Humboldt was a nice fit for her family.

“We figured we would stay around for a few years and head back to the Des Moines area, but somehow Humboldt has a way of just kind of grabbing onto you,” she said. “One thing led to another and here we are today watching our grandchildren grow up here.”

Through her work at the bank, she was able to meet a lot of people.

“Over my career I have probably worked with 300 people,” she said. “I loved working with people. Because of the customers, that’s truly how I got to meet so many people in the community and surrounding area.”

She added, “We had fun at our jobs.”

Rhead worked as a teller and later as an operation supervisor. Part of her job was to assist people with home loans.

“I loved helping people make their dreams come true,” she said.

Rhead retired from her banking career in March of 2017.

Since that time she has been working for Homeward, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to improve housing and businesses in Iowa’s rural communities. The organization covers these counties: Calhoun, Franklin, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Mitchell, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Winnebago, Worth, and Wright.

Rhead is the organization’s program manager.

She helps pople with various incomes acquire loans or grants to help with improvements or purchases for homes and businesses.

“Homeward allowed me to take my knowledge and continue to use it in an environment not as heavily regulated,” she said. “Still helping people with their housing needs.”

Aside from that, Rhead is a hospice volunteer and a member of the Humboldt Rotary Club.

Above all else, she enjoys helping people.

“Whether it’s been helping people fulfill their dreams of buying their first house or helping them build their dream home, constructing a new home, or downsizing to senior living,” she said. “It’s been so fun to help people through those steps in life. I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”