I am a mama, student, and wannabe writer with a passion for community development and organizing. I want to explore and help build the narrative of the City of Cudahy.
On a sunny Monday morning, I met with Heidi Dauer over coffee at Fixx Cafe in Saint Francis. It was likely the quietest part of her day--her daughters in school and work not yet started, but she generously gave me an hour of her time in which she shared her experiences and thoughts.
Heidi lives in a quiet neighborhood near Ladish with her husband Mike, a master plumber, and her daughters Clara and Natalie. Her family did not originally intend to end up in Cudahy, but found the house while driving through the city and fell in love with the amount of space the property offered, the cost, closeness to Lake Michigan, and the small-town feel while still being close enough to Milwaukee. Living on a large property has given the Dauers the opportunity to expand the garage, Mike’s favorite part of the house.
The girls attend Lincoln Elementary School, where Heidi is a lunchroom supervisor in the afternoons--a job she enjoys as it gives her an opportunity to be around the kids. She also serves as the district liaison for families who have special needs students in the Cudahy Public School district. This role is a three year commitment in which Heidi is available to answer questions that families and students may have about services offered or the rights of the disabled. Heidi is knowledgeable in this area as she and Mike are parents to a child with special needs, and she understands that it can be difficult and confusing to navigate the school system at times. Because she knows many of the staff in the schools, understands the role of early childhood education, and can relate to many issues that families may face, Heidi is a wonderful asset to the Cudahy school system.
In her rare free time, Heidi enjoys watching cooking shows with her daughter Natalie, cooking, reading, and shopping--she names Target and The Gift Shoppe on Packard Avenue as places that she likes to frequent.
Heidi feels invested in the Cudahy community, and looks forward to seeing it improve. “We have to start somewhere,” she says, pointing out that new development like The Gift Shoppe on Packard Avenue play an important role in revitalizing the area. She believes that the city has so much to offer and thinks that maybe South Milwaukee’s Milwaukee Avenue could be used as a model for the development of smaller businesses on a main street.
When asked whether her family intends to leave Cudahy, she states plainly “No, we’re here now.” Those who know Heidi know that she is involved, aware, and engaged, and that the city and our schools are lucky to have her.