Local youth wins $30,000 grant through writing contest

June 30, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Habitat for Humanity Halton–Mississauga–Dufferin is receiving a massive boost in funding thanks to a local youth.

Grade 6 student of Montgomery Village Public School, Kara Taylor is one of three grand prize winners in Habit for Humanity Canada’s annual Meaning of Home writing contest and is being awarded with a $30,000 grant that will be used to build homes in Orangeville.

This year, the contest saw a record number of entries at 12,000, and Taylor said she’s incredibly grateful to have her poem, titled “What Home Means To Me”, selected as a grand prize winner.

“I was really proud and excited and a little bit even surprised, since so many people were in this contest,” recalled Taylor, when reflecting on first hearing the news that she won.

“I’m just really happy that I can help build these houses and create change for people who don’t have a home.”

Paulette Munro, Taylor’s mother, said she’s super proud of her daughter’s achievement.

“She’s just a very creative writer, she’s very socially aware, so this exercise was very meaningful to her,” Munro noted.

For the 2021 Meaning of Home Writing Contest, grade 4, 5, and 6 students were asked to share what home means to them through a poem or short essay. Each student entry earned a $10 donation for their local Habitat and around $120,000 was raised for Habitat’s across Canada this year thanks to the 12,000 entries to the contest and a total of $300,000 was raised.

“Out of 12,000 [entries], it’s remarkable that we had a winner here out of Orangeville, so congratulations to Kara Taylor, and thank you for bringing that grant money to Orangeville,” said Mayor Sandy Brown during a Council meeting in mid-June.

During that meeting, Councillor Joe Andrews also recognized Taylor’s achievement.

“We are absolutely delighted for Kara Taylor, so congratulations on her wonderful submission,” said Orangeville Councillor Joe Andrews. “This puts Orangeville on the map across this great country, so it’s great, great news.”

Julie Svensson Watt, director of communications at Habitat for Humanity Halton–Mississauga–Dufferin noted the significance of the $30,000 grant her organization is receiving because of Taylor’s poem.

“The last year and a half of COVID has seriously impacted our fundraising,” she said.

“It’s been difficult for a lot of charities, people are struggling, as we all know. So, for us to receive this grant knowing that it will be earmarked for building in Orangeville, that’s wonderful.”

The Halton–Mississauga branch of Habitat For Humanity expanded its service area in January to include Dufferin. Prior to that, it was under the Wellington–Guelph branch.

The Orangeville Restore (202 First St #1) changed hands at that time and is now being used to support the Halton–Mississauga–Dufferin chapter of Habitat.

The Restore is used to cover administration costs at Habitat so 100 per cent of donations from individuals can be allocated to building new homes. Any excess revenue from the Restores is used to support building programs as well.

“Our goal is affordable housing and everything we do is to get us there,” noted Svensson Watt.

Meanwhile, Melissa Foley, senior manager of partnerships at Habitat For Humanity Halton–Mississauga–Dufferin spoke to the importance of the organization’s annual writing contest.

“Why this program is so important, is because Kara’s the future. The grade 4, 5 and 6 students – they’re our future. And for us to get them to understand the needs of people to have a place to live where they’re safe… it’s so important,” said Foley.

“They’re already getting that training and understanding so they’ll be advocates for affordable housing moving forward, and it’s going to be needed more than ever. The issue is not going away.”

To view Taylor’s poem visit: and to view the contest winners reading their poem visit:

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