St. Catherine CES student wins $10,000 with “What home means to me” for Habitat PKR

May 24, 2023

When St. Catherine Catholic Elementary school teacher Lindsay Ruthowsky introduced the Meaning of Home writing assignments to her students, she never thought one would win out of thousands of entries across the country.

Grade 6 student Ellyot Wood was announced as a runner-up in the Habitat for Humanity’s “Meaning of Home” contest, an activity that provides teachers with lesson plans and activities to promote writing and reflection skills. Each contest entry results in a $10 donation to the school’s local Habitat for Humanity to help build safe and affordable homes for families in the community. Students are asked to reflect on the meaning of home, and what it feels like to them, looking past the physical attributes.

Ellyot Wood reading "What home means to me"

With her entry “What home means to me”, Wood brought a much needed grant of $10,000 to support the newest phase of affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region (Habitat PKR).

What home means to me

Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling, it’s the feeling of love and happiness. It is a feeling of safety and comfort with your family and friends. Home is the neighborhood where I’ve grown up, the beautiful birds singing their morning song, the laughter of all the kids playing at the park, the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies that I can bake with my grandma, the smile on everyone’s faces as we laugh and joke around together. Home is the feeling that I can be myself whenever I want. Home is the country I live in, the tasty smell of sticky maple syrup on our pancakes, the two beautiful languages we speak, the hunting and fishing we are able to do, the place where everyone is equal, the sound of our national anthem and all the Indigenous peoples that teach us so much that we’ve never known before. Home follows me everywhere when I’m with people I love the most. Home is the beautiful nature around us, the trees that blow in the wind, the lakes that are filled with gorgeous fish, the wildlife that fills the forests, all the leaves changing in the fall, the different seasons that are all so unique and the flowers that grow every spring. Home is wherever you are when you’re surrounded with the things you love. Home is not just a place or building, it’s the feeling of love, care, happiness, joy and confidence. Wherever you are, you are loved and that’s a home for me.

On May 23, 2023, Habitat PKR was joined by Habitat for Humanity Canada, locally elected officials, media, and members of the community, to kick off construction for Phase 2 of Leahy’s Lane – an energy efficient, 12-unit condo development located in the City’s north end.

"We build great homes"

Closing the event on a high note, Habitat PKR announced that Wood had won the runner-up prize for the 2023 Meaning of Home national writing contest. She read her winning piece “What home means to me,” in front of all the attendees at the build kick-off. Among those who came to celebrate her win were her close family members, as well as Ruthowsky.

In addition to the grant, Habitat for Humanity will recognize Wood‘s accomplishment during a school assembly, thank the students for their participation, and talk about the impact of their Meaning of Home entries in the community. And as part of the win, the organization will throw a pizza party celebration for her class, with Habitat Canada, Habitat PKR, and SAGEN (founding sponsor) representatives.

Wood with parents, sister, and teacher.