The idea of a statewide Habitat for Humanity cooperative was first born on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1992. It was over lunch at a state Habitat for Humanity conference that Dick Baker of Hardy County, Kirk Lyman-Barner from Almost Heaven HFH in Pendleton County and Steven Spears of the Buckhannon River affiliate first kicked the idea around. Their discussion primarily revolved around volume purchasing and central warehousing of materials for Habitat houses, but as other voices were added many possibilities of other sharing of resources where mentioned. But due to the all-volunteer nature of Habitat in those days the idea never went much further than the discussion that day.
As time went on many state affiliates grew and hired professional staff. Most affiliates added executive directors and through their natural camaraderie came a loose network through which many affiliates began to share resources. In the mid 1990s, as part of HFHs East Region, state Habitat affiliates regularly sent their executive directors to regional meetings and conferences. These conferences became the setting for many more informal discussions about statewide coordination and resource sharing, but since West Virginia representatives were always a minority in such meetings nothing formal was ever done. But the idea of a statewide cooperative was kept alive because of the clear benefits it would bring affiliates.
In the year 2000 the steering committee met three times to draft bylaws and work on gaining acceptance from other state affiliates. The goal was to have 100% of state affiliates become membersťof the new organization. The first meeting was at Flatwoods, W. Va. and consisted mostly of creating the broad strokes of the bylaws. Three regions were mapped out and a representative form of board membership was developed and codified in the bylaws. A subsequent meeting was held in June, in Beckley, at which the bylaws were further developed. The next meeting was held in July at a private vacation home in Canaan Valley (the intent was to move the geographical location to allow more participation from other affiliates). Dick Baker, one of the original imaginers of a state Habitat organization was in attendance at this meeting. A few fine points of the bylaws were finalized and all of the material was sent to David Hammond who wrote the final version.
The organization ran as an all-volunteer organization for a time, but it was acknowledged by all that paid staff would be a requirement for the SSO to be effective.
A 2-year grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for $80,000 allowed the organization to hire staff. The grant was received in March of 2005. The board of directors immediately began a search in April of 2005 and hired the first Executive Director of HFH of West Virginia.