“To me, home is not just a physical place. Home is a feeling.”
With words like these, 1o-year-old Saanich resident Evan Papps is helping to build homes in the Greater Victoria area, as he won $5,000 for Habitat for Humanity Victoria for his submission to Genworth’s Meaning of Home poetry contest.
Papps, who attends Grade 5 at Glenlyon Norfolk School, won the money for the local non-profit organization, by finishing as one of 11 runners-up. The winning entry, meanwhile, triggers a $50,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity. Genworth also donates $10 per entry, which adds up to more than $70,000.
Papps said the poem titled “The Feeling of Home” reflects his own feelings about home, which for him is more than just a collection of walls.
“I think it’s people supporting each other, and helping each other live and work together,” he said, in an interview last month. “It’s really important not just to have a home but to have people helping you and loving you. I think what I was trying to tell is that we are very lucky to have our homes, and we should be generous towards other people, who don’t have that.”
Papps, who also writes prose and plays the guitar, said his teacher alerted him to the national writing contest. As one of more than 7,000 entries, Papps faced astronomical odds, when he submitted in October of last year. But winning was only a secondary consideration for Papps, who said poetry offers him the opportunity to express himself in a unique manner.
“I think I will keep writing poems,” he said. “It has a rhythm to it, and it gives a me pattern.”
Papps also plans to remain active in the subject of his submission – housing. “I want to be an architectural engineer and building homes,” he said. “And it’s not just the actual walls – it’s more the feeling, the sense of community.”
Habitat for Humanity is free to use the money in any way it wishes, and Papps and his family plan to check out their work. In fact, Papps’ victory is not the first contribution that his family has made to the non-profit organization.
“We also as a family have donated a lot of things to Habitat for Humanity ReStore over the years, and purchased from the ReStore for our renovations,” said Papps’ mother Roman Johnston. “So it’s nice to support that organization.”
Johnston could not be more pleased that her son has continued the family tradition. If you live in beautiful city like Saanich in a wealthy country like Canada, it is important to remember that not everybody is as fortunate, she said.
“So I’m really proud of Evan for entering the contest and for articulating himself the way he did.”