A single mom helped to break ground on her new habitat home last week, and it's all to give her boys a better life.

The groundbreaking occurred on Thursday, Sept. 28. in Boonville, with volunteers flying in from all over the country to help with the start of the build for Dana Kelley and her two sons Draven and Trevor.

Kelley said she has been working to build up her credit score so she could build a home for her boys for the past two years.

"I've been renting as a single mom for two boys, who are 8 and 16. I've been paying bills on my own for so long and I've been thinking, 'I need a lower house payment," she said. "Because I got a 16-year-old and I need to worry about getting him a car. So just financially it just seemed like a better deal."

Kelley, who is from Kansas and Wyoming, moved to Boonville in 2002 and started working at O'Reilly's Auto Parts.

"Then I got divorced in 2008 and then moved to Chandler for about 10 years," she said. "And now I just want to give my kids a better opportunity."

Kelley said the $70,000 house has three bedrooms, so each of her boys can have their own room. But even more importantly, now, they have room for a dog.

"This house is all for them," she said. "My 8-year-old wants one really bad and he wants for some reason a pug. He is obsessed with them and loves them and has wanted one for two years and I've tried to talk them out of them like 'hey look at these terriers, aren't these cute' and he's like 'no mom, I want a pug, they're so cute.' "

Kelley said being able to have a habitat home will allow her to keep more money at the end of the month to spend on her boys.

"You know we've never had internet, things like that that would help us I think for school and stuff," she said. "Because everything is always online now."

Kelley said currently, she and her boys are renting a house but that it is hard to improve her situation with a landlord.

"And just being able to have something for us," she said. "Because having a landlord, it really stinks. I just had a lot of problems."

Kelley said one of the major problems she had was the landlord not fixing the plumbing.

"And I had someone advocate for me, 'this is your house, this is your responsibility' so it got fixed," she said. "But now there's a horrible sewer smell in the house now. It's just really annoying."

But Kelley, who has just been offered a manager position at her new job at Bumper to Bumper, is trying to stay positive and look forward to the future and her new home.

Amy Hobbs, executive director for Warrick County Habitat for Humanity, said they are hoping to be able to give the keys to the house to Kelley and her boys this December, before Christmas.

"It depends on the crews and the volunteers and the painting," she said. "We really have to get a lot of people together to paint. The quicker we can do those types of things, the quicker they'll get in."

Some of the volunteers who are helping to make that goal a reality include Jennifer Wong from the Two Ten Footwear Foundation. Wong came down from Waltham, Massachusetts by herself to learn how to use a nail gun for the first time and to help build Kelley's home. Wong and the other volunteers were all invited by Tom Vernarsky, Warrick County Habitat for Humanity vice-president and board member and Men's Show Buyer for Shoe Carnival.

"We support families and individuals in the footwear industry," Wong said. "Shoe Carnival, is using footwear cares, one of our key initiatives, to give back to this community and homes with Habitat for Humanity, so it's a really great partnership."

Wong said she came to Boonville to thank and recognize Habitat and all of the other shoe companies involved, including volunteers from WECO and Floor Shine from Wisconsin.

"And use this as a model so we can continue to replicate this kind of footwear cares," she said. "So we're just trying to get more people to be inspired to do things like this because it has so much impact."

Wong said being able to have a small part in building a home for a family is incredibly rewarding and encouraging.

"With everything that's happening in our world, between the hurricanes disasters and unemployment and health care issues," she said, "to be able to really have an impact and see something take place in a matter of days and weeks is so important and really remarkable. It feels really good."

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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