CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Karen White hasn't been able to unpack boxes and call someplace home for several years.
Now, the single mother and her two sons are getting a new house in Hurricane, thanks to Habitat for Humanity building its first home in Putnam County since 2004.
"We've been living with a family friend, the godmother of one of my children -- she's like family and she has opened her home to us so generously," White, 40, said. "Most of my stuff is still in boxes and this will be the first time in a few years it gets pulled out."
Several years ago, Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam counties set up an advisory council with the goal of getting a house built in Putnam.
Ground will be broken on White's home Thursday, something executive director Shawn Means believes is long overdue.
"We realized ... because of many different factors, we didn't serve Putnam as well," Means said.
Since the organization began building houses in the two counties, they have constructed 148 homes.
White's home marks 149 -- though only the 19th built in Putnam, according to Means.
The advisory council was set up to determine the shortfall. The main issue, Means said, was acquiring land to build on.
"Land cost in Putnam was simply too high back six years ago before the economy tanked," Means said. "A lot of folks were holding on to their property in hopes of selling it at a greater profit."
The council also has been spreading the word about Habitat's application process.
White said a member of the council approached her at church and suggested she apply.
Her two sons, James, 7, and Michael, 5, attend school in the neighborhood where their new home will be built.
"It's exciting that the three of us will have a sense of ownership with our home. The boys are excited they'll have their own rooms," she said.
White works for St. Timothy's in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Hurricane.
She has already recommended the program to another family.
"We want people to know that if there's a need, there's a way to try and fill it," she said.
Habitat plans to continue their efforts in Putnam. They've set another goal to identify 10 more pieces of land in the next two years where they can build homes.
"We want to have a kind of bank of property in the area," Means said.
Often times people see the large houses in the Teays Valley area and forget areas of Putnam that are less affluent, he noted.
"Anywhere there's upscale housing, there's also substandard housing. Most of the time when people think of Putnam they think of the part where the interstate runs through, but there's a lot more to Putnam than that," he said.
While taking on homeownership can be daunting, White said a required course on finance that Habitat scheduled gives her confidence.
"Habitat is setting up homeowners to succeed," she said. "I feel like I have received help in so many areas of my life throughout my life, I hope can spend the rest paying it forward. I know so many generous and thoughtful and helpful people -- I want to be that person as well, I hope I can grow into that person."
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.