Mandy Manalang, 34, is the children’s ministry director at Harker Heights United Methodist Church and lives in Killeen with her family.
Where are you from?
Parker City, a little town in Indiana.
What brought you to Central Texas?
My husband was in the Army and we got stationed here at Fort Hood in 2004. He was hired by the VA in 2008 so we just decided to stay and settle down in this area for a little while.
How long have you worked for the church?
We’ve been members of the church for four years and I’ve been doing the children’s ministry for about the same amount of time.
What do you enjoy most about working in Heights?
I like the small-town feel of Harker Heights. To me it’s a city because where I grew up was really small. But even though there’s lots and lots of people here it still feels like a small town. You kind of know everybody and I like seeing people out, like when I go to the grocery store there’s always someone I know. I really like that feel of community.
What made you want to get in this line of work?
I really like to work with children and I like the children’s programs. There are a lot of things that I have fun doing in working with them, so it’s kind of like a little entertainment for me, too. I like meeting new kids and getting people involved in the church. My boys go to St. Christopher’s preschool so I also do a couple of volunteer things there.
Are you involved in any community activities, organizations or clubs?
Our church works really closely with the Harker Heights Food Care Center and we do things like bake sales and all the proceeds go to the center. I’m also involved in the Monster Dash next month, where we will have a little booth and hand out bananas and water, etc.
Who or what is an inspiration to you?
My husband is a really good motivator because he’s been through so much with being deployed. Seeing him every day, with all that he’s been through with the Army, still getting up and being happy is a good inspiration for me to do the same.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
I love Yellowstone National Park. I worked there one summer in college and I was addicted to it. I never wanted to leave. I love being out in the middle of nowhere where there’s more animals than people and it’s so beautiful.
Tell me about your family.
My husband’s name is Gerry. He served 22 years in the Army. He’s now retired and works in Temple at the VA. We have two small boys Morgan, 4, and Myles, 2.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would that be and why?
I really, really miss Indiana seasons. Right now it’s late September so I’m thinking we should be in sweatshirts and jackets, and that’s not really the case here in Texas. I wish there was more of a fall and maybe some snow.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
My high school cross country coach was probably the most motivational person to me, and I think about this all the time. He had this saying called, “Work will work when wishing won’t” and he always told us no matter what you do in life you need to work for it and not just wish for it. He would say, “If you work hard it will always get done; if you wish, it won’t.” I use that in almost everything I do because everything takes a little hard work but it makes it worth it.