This weekend, single mother Kelly Putnam and her 13-year old triplets, Jakob, Nolan and Taylor, finally got the home of their dreams, thanks to the countless volunteers of Habitat for Humanity of Warrick County.
The house was the 100th home built by Habitat for Humanity of Warrick County and it was constructed in honor of Bill Spencer. Spencer had been the assistant construction supervisor for Habitat for Humanity since 2003, before he died last year.
“He fell in love with volunteering,” Amy Hobbs, executive director, said. “He was just amazing with families and the way he mentored them.”
Hobbs said there is a long and formal application process families must go through before they are selected for a home.
“It’s based on need, income and credit,” she said. “And then recommendations are made by the Family Selection Committee to the Board of Directors.”
Putnam, a program assistant at Loge Elementary School, said she first inquired about having a home built for her and her children in February 2015. They were officially selected November last year.
“We were so excited,” she said, “and felt so blessed that we had been given the opportunity.”
Hobbs said part of the building process includes the head of household putting in 200 “sweat equity” hours to help with the construction of their home.
“She was one of the hardest working heads of households,” Hobbs said of Putnam. “She more than exceed those hours.”
Putnam said she put in a total of 321 hours and 15 minutes into building her new home.
“The reason I felt the need to put in 110 percent is because I was building that home for me and my children,” she said. “It was my responsibility to make sure everything was done and to make sure that house would become our home.”
Putnam said during the course of the construction, she smashed her fingers quite a few times, dropped boards on her feet and worked in some of the hottest conditions imaginable.
“Building our home was the most rewarding, emotional, frustrating, and hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” she said.
Putnam said she’ll never forget the day her house was framed. She said volunteers from Shoe Carnival and Timberland Pro arrived first and then one after another, more cars of volunteers kept arriving to the site.
“I’m not one to show my emotion,” she said. “However, that day broke me. Seeing all of those volunteers — more than twenty to be exact — there to help build my home — a home of someone they haven’t ever met — touched my heart in a way I can’t explain. I broke down and started crying and just couldn’t thank them enough. We framed that house in one day.”
Putnam said her children were involved in every decision of what their house would look like. They helped to pick out the shutters, flooring, cabinets and siding, roof and paint colors. Putnam said Jakob, Nolan and Taylor had a lot of support from their friends and teachers and although they weren’t able to be on site during active construction, they did help clean up, paint and do hard work.
“It definitely wasn’t easy, all the waiting,” she said, “but I’m pretty sure they think it was worth the wait.”
Putnam said that she knew nothing about Habitat for Humanity before her experience but knew that people who needed a house somehow got it. But she said getting a house through Habitat isn’t a handout.
“It’s hard work, lots of sweat and tears, and a mortgage at the end of the build,” she said. “What you also get is to meet fabulous volunteers, who go out — some everyday — to help people build their houses. They do this because they want to, with nothing in return.”
Putnam said Habitat for Humanity has changed her and her children’s lives.
“We are so blessed and grateful that this opportunity has been given to us,” she said. “I encourage everyone to go out and volunteer just one time. I can guarantee it will touch your heart and you’ll never forget it.”
Putnam said Sunday was an incredibly emotional day and one that she and her children had dreamt about for months.
“To finally be in our own home was absolutely amazing,” she said. “We were finally home.”
Habbitat for Humanity also had the 11th celebration of their Re-Store on Saturday at their Chandler location on 10622 Telephone Road.
To volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, call 812-858-3707 or stop in at their Re-Store.