Habitat for Humanity Essay contest winners

Josephine Pacheco, 17, and Patty Enriquez, 15, of Medford are among the winners of Habitat for Humanity International's 2008 Building the Future: Homeowner Youth Essay Contest — the inaugural essay competition asking children of Habitat partner families to describe what living in a Habitat home meant to them. The Pacheco and Enriquez homes were built in partnership with the Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliate, which has partnered with 32 families during the past 20 years to ensure them simple, decent, affordable housing.

First-place winner Josephine Pacheco, her twin sister, Susan, and their mother, Terrie, live in their four-bedroom Habitat home which Terrie and all five of her children occupied when the home was completed in 2000. Josephine Pacheco wrote about the insecurity she had felt. "I moved 10 times from the ages of one to nine and in the process, I developed a horrible fear of change. For nine years, on and off, I lived with my five siblings and my mother in a one-bedroom trailer where the tub was falling though the floor. I lived in constant fear that I would come home from school to find the trailer crumbled into heaping piles of rubble." "My Habitat home means security because I know it's healthier, I know that I can always come home and that Habitat for Humanity cares about what happens to my family."

Second-place winner Patty Enriquez, her sister Tania, and their parents Jose and Leticia live in their Habitat home completed in 2002. Her oldest sister, Blanca, was married in 2007. Patty Enriquez's essay told of the wonderful changes their Habitat home brought the Enriquez family. "Our lives were devastating before Habitat for Humanity. To know that we could have a better home, it illuminated my heart and spirit. My home means so much to me because it made my life better and my family's life better. My dad put so much love and effort into this home and it makes it special. My dad didn't want a plain and boring home. He placed beautiful tile work on the kitchen counter and the bathroom floor. The most beautiful thing in our home is the "sea wall" in our bathroom. My dad put seashells, starfish, and rocks on our bathroom wall. It is tremendously beautiful," Patty wrote.

This first easy contest awarded winners younger than 15 years of age gift certificates to the Habitat online store, while those 15 and up received money toward a Habitat Global Village or Youth Immersion trip. Additionally, winners had the option of donating their prize to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate that partnered with the family to build their home.

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