People Profiles|Cecile De Mello

Cecile De Mello is the first to admit that not many of her peers actively seek out Englewood as a place to raise their families. But for this hard-working mother of three, the choice has been rewarding.

“We made the decision to put down roots in this neighborhood. A lot of people assume this isn’t a place you can navigate with a family, but it is! I want other young couples to know why we chose to live here.”

Affordable housing was one of the things that attracted Cecile and her husband to invest in Englewood. “We paid a great price for a large home with a lot of land, and we’re not drowning in debt because of it. Instead of worrying about a big mortgage, we can invest our money in other things that will benefit our family long-term.”

She was also impressed with Englewood’s strong sense of community. “People do look out for each other—it’s been a collective. Should my daughter or my son misbehave, someone is going to let us know. You could move to a suburb and not find that same camaraderie.”

Although Cecile has only lived in Englewood for the past eight years, she is a passionate advocate for change in the neighborhood she now calls home. As a longtime community organizer with a degree from Temple University and a master’s in urban planning and public affairs from UIC, she funnels her expertise back into the community as a volunteer for the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.). She is also a community engagement specialist for the neighborhood’s recently-opened Whole Foods Market, conducting local outreach on behalf of the supermarket chain and organizing events rooted in healthy eating education.

“In addition to helping Whole Foods create economic growth here, I’ve been able to raise awareness about affordable access to fresh, healthy food. That’s rewarding not only as a mom, but as a homeowner invested in Englewood’s future. I’m so proud to be a resident of this community.”

This is #EnglewoodRising.

Photography by Tonika Johnson