home is where my story starts contest - winning entries

​Below are the winning entries of the Home Is Where My Story Startssm Contest.

Please note, to ensure that we are fully honoring the words and feelings expressed by our customers in each of these stories, we will not be editing their submissions. We believe every word, punctuation mark, and even typo is a true and authentic expression of their life story, and we wouldn’t presume to change any of it.

My Home
Submitted by Maria Almanza of Westminster

I come from a world of rich aromas of enchiladas and rice, mariachi band melodies like Mañanitas, and Quinceañeras. I am on the receiving end of racial slurs ranging from, “Stupid Mexican go back to your country, we don’t want you,” to “illegal,” and “alien.” As a single mother, I am brave and courageous for my daughter, especially in moments of prejudice, racism, and discrimination. I recognize and experience countless sacrifices and struggles since emigrating from Mexico in 1990.

Homeownership was but a dream for me. I thought of those who owned their home as having achieved the American dream. A dream that I thought I would never have the capabilities to attain. CHFA made a difference in my life by educating me, and providing me with the path, and resources towards homeownership. Most importantly, CHFA boosted my self-confidence. CHFA proudly fueled my passion to honor all emigrants who have held a vision of America as the land of opportunity. I too, an emigrant, can own my very own home, without having to be from a wealthy social class standing or part of the traditional American family.

Thanks to CHFA, I have raised my beautiful, smart daughter in our home for nine years now. As a first generation Mexican America, and the first in our family to go to college, Dianna has recently graduated in May from Regis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. My Cum Laude graduate has proven that all my hard work has paid off. CHFA has proven to me that I can take ownership of my own life.

Thank you CHFA for helping me believe in myself, and grow into an even stronger role model for my daughter. You have helped me mold my strong voice, and strong sense of self to model the values of honesty, responsibility, integrity, equality, and determination to my daughter, as a single Latina mother.

Our Home
Submitted by Denise Amick and Aprad Lazar of Fort Collins

The house was a foreclosure in need of work, yet full of potential. The yard was weedy and featureless, with a rotting 70 year-old apple tree. The interior had poorly executed updates and vandalized wiring that needed to be addressed to make it livable.

Despite the issues, my husband instantly jumped at the opportunity to buy a house we could afford in an established neighborhood with mature trees, nice sidewalks; with proximity to our jobs, downtown businesses, Poudre River and trails.

Our summer was spent getting to work on our “new” 1927 home. We ripped out dusty carpets, scraped up linoleum tiles and removed dated built-ins so that we could get the wood floors refinished. The first week we “moved in” we lodged in the garage, sleeping with the doors wide open and our stuff stacked all about us while we waited for polyurethane to dry.

One of those early days in residence we discovered a half dozen eggs and a friendly note on our front porch from the couple next door. Another neighbor stopped by to introduce himself, just in time to help us maneuver an unwieldy wardrobe down our narrow cellar stairway.

As there were few operable electrical outlets and no ceiling fixtures we depended upon a web of extension cords. The house was also short on appliances so we improvised cooking simple meals on a hot plate I had picked up at a yard sale. It had no on/off or temperature control. We plugged it in to heat and then yanked the cord with a spark to keep things from burning.

Finally, with the help of an experienced friend, we set about rewiring the house. Being the smallest of the crew, I spent a lot of time in the hot attic with a flashlight, pulling wires. We soon realized a wiring diagram was important, and after investigating the source of my extreme fatigue, our electrical plan identified the smaller of two bedrooms as the “baby room”.

An expectant mother, I was eager to get the house ready. With fervor we removed layers and layers of wallpaper, patched plaster, stripped woodwork and finally got an oven that would fit our tiny kitchen! We baked 3 huge apple pies with sour green apples from our tree. They were good, but oddly crunchy - after cooking and cooking for over 2 hours the apple slices never got tender.

In the fall I planted over 50 bulbs, set to bloom around the baby’s spring due date. By October we noticed our green apples had turned a gorgeous rosy red! My mom sent us a silver chime baby rattle and numerous grounded outlet multipliers for Christmas. Things were coming together.

Through the winter my husband and I enjoyed each other’s company as I rested and relaxed more than usual. The final bouts of frenzied nesting resulted in a well-scrubbed kitchen floor and the replacement of deteriorated bathtub tile. After that I relinquished my need to make the house “perfect” It was amply warm and cozy with sunlight streaming in the windows. We needed nothing more.

On a crisp April morning my water broke and I set out to make a carrot cake for the occasion. Labor was beginning and I felt great.

The next morning our son was born, pink but not breathing. Before I knew it he was on his way by helicopter to The Children’s Hospital in Denver. After 4 days on life support, with no answers in sight he died in our arms.

If we had not become emotionally and financially invested in the house I don’t know that we would have stayed. It might have been too unbearable. It was hard enough to return all the baby things my sister-in-law was loaning us. To write cards for shower gifts, still arriving. To explain what happened. To face neighbors when all I wanted to do was cry and run away.

At a time that I was so grief stricken as to not know my place at all in the world, I had a place.

Then our friend and previous housemate approached us with a landscape plan. The idea was to install a memorial garden in our backyard. Plants were donated, gift certificates from nurseries received. Memorial garden gifts arrived from near and far; three boulders, a weather vane, fruit trees to plant in our son’s honor.

On Mother’s Day – the first Saturday after the local frost date – work days began. Neighbors and friends hummed and chatted as they created a raised, horseshoe-shaped bed. River rocks were placed, stepping stones laid, and ground cover planted by the loving hands of adults and children of our community.

Our home. The structure, the garden, the people – that grounded us and healed us during this difficult time. We cannot imagine ever leaving it. Seven years later, the apple tree still flowers and our daughter plays in its shade. And this is where our story starts.

Brittany Baker - Home is Where My Story Starts Contest Entry
Submitted by Brittany Baker of Englewood​​

Video entry

Homeownership is Where My Story Starts
Submitted by Barbara Ellen Dean of Pueblo

An oak tree does not produce acorns until it is fifty years old. This is a good comparison to how homeownership is where my story starts, as I am now fifty-one. Homeownership has influenced my life in three ways it has given me sanctuary, stability, and the feeling I belong. I never felt more at home. A half century of subsistence filled struggling to find my place in this world I could call home. Homeownership has given me the ability to thrive because I possess the vital needs I longed for as a human being.

Home ownership has given me a sanctuary. A sanctuary is my shelter from the anxiousness I feel when I am out in the world. I love being able to express my personality in the wall hangings purchased at the thrift store. The feel of the carpet under my feet knowing I am on the way to owning this patch of land. The pride I feel in the guardianship of what is entrusted to my care. My home surrounds me in warmth, an element I would never experience without the help of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority Program. My home is an expression of my growth.

Homeownership gives me security and stability. I have been a vagabond in my unsettled experiences of the world around me. I now have the security of possessing a physical key, a concrete function of my protection. In my life, I have slept in some of the most peculiar places, lost of the feeling of home. Running was my safety net. Homeownership has had a profound influence on my life. I spent a half-century struggling for a place in this world I could call home, using places, and relationships trying to find it. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority helped me find safety and security in my own home, not at the expense of trading in who I am to another person’s will over me. I have the security to blossom.

Homeownership has enabled me to feel like I belong, having a place to call home. After forty years, I finally met my biological mother. I found myself at a crossroad; I had the feeling of ‘now what do I do’. I looked for answers to why she left me at the age of two and a half. Those answers in hand, and homeless at the time, people I met helped me with the process of my housing, through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, leading to the ownership of my own home. Homeownership influenced my life, because I have started to build healthy relationships. I recently started going to the community center involving myself in a stretching class. I also enjoy the use of a treadmill, practicing the art of walking. Relationships take time. I am growing roots, becoming a positive factor in my community. I never felt more at home.

The thought of being the guardian of this place I call home has enabled me to become aware that I can make a difference. The sanctuary, stability, and the feeling of belonging give me the safety to learn my experiences were a teaching tool toward empathy. Still unsure of my path or purpose, I do know that homeownership has laid a foundation for my growth and self-determination. My hope is to pay it forward by being a better human being. I feel so blessed to have the privilege and support the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority granted me.

My CHFA Story
Submitted by Amy Gallagher from Grand Junction

The American Dream has come to me
From rental properties, I am free

Listen as I explain my path
Have no fear, there’s not much math

In childhood, education and helping others were values taught
What we ought to do & what was naught

Raised with a strong work ethic
Delaying gratification was one trick

Taking all of this to heart
A professional journey I was about to start

Schooling lasted many long difficult years
Lots of blood, sweat, & tears

Classes, practicum, dissertation, internship
Completed on both coasts-what a wild and crazy trip

A doctorate in psychology was the goal
That achievement felt deep in my soul

That type of commitment can be a sacrifice
No pay, to low pay, to student loans that don’t look too nice

“Dr. Amy” now works in community mental health
Helping those who do not have much wealth

In my personal life, I had four rentals in five years
All in one Colorado county- I was close to tears

Hearing yelling and screaming during the night
And all the walls were the same shade of white

It was time to make a major change
Even though owning as a “single” seemed a bit strange

A fabulous realtor plus fantastic lender
Equaled support and guidance that were tender
They fully understood my needs
And my budget, they did heed

When looking, I brought my really close friends
To help see things from a different lens

I passed the class for CHFA first-time home buyers
And felt my knowledge base grow higher

Loans, credit scores, and house labor
Plus, how to be a really good neighbor

I learned the rules one-by-one
And felt accomplished when I was done

A few weeks later, papers were signed
I couldn’t believe the phenomenal house was mine!

An open concept with bedrooms down the hall
Now, there’s hardly any white paint on the walls

My life has shifted in a positive way
Feeling relaxed and settled every day

No worries about needing to move or pack
Home improvement is becoming a knack

At home and safe in the ------- neighborhood
While making payments, as I know I should

I am happy and healthy in my new home
For now there is no reason to roam

I’ve learned a new way to de-stress and relax
Gardening and planting flowers to the max

To the CHFA loan program, I say a big thank you
For you have made this single, professional girl’s American Dream come true!

My Home
Submitted by Cenythia Green of Denver

Please accept my story below for your contest.
  • I am a 56 year young single female, 1st time homeowner
  • I was blessed in November 2011 to be able to purchase my home thru your program
  • I was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2009, I use to be a computer programmer. During 2007 thru 2009 I found myself for the first time unable to keep a job, I was unable to follow logic in website development and creation and became very despondent
  • My grandfather on my mother’s side, whom I never met, was schizophrenic
  • I became homeless and destitute, and lost my apartment and my entire household belongings to storage I was unable to pay, baby photos, my childhood photos, my entire identity
  • I developed paranoid features with my mental illness and had to seek help thru aurora mental health, in aurora Colorado. It was my therapist Lynn Norton, whom walked me thru the process of purchasing a home using your program
  • My mental illness makes me very sensitive to sound / noise, and apartment living was heightening my mental illness instability
  • Since I have become a homeowner, November f2011, I have felt so emotionally and physically safe. I feel like I matter and I belong in spite of my mental illness.
  • I have been able to allow my creative side appear to help me with my lawn care and interior design of my home
  • I have learned how to make minor repairs to my home, like plumbing kitchen pipes replaced, installing more insulation to my crawl space, caulking my windows and floor heater vents. I watch you tube videos to learn these things, and I am addicted to DIY repair and create network shows
Being a homeowner is feeling loved!! Feeling protected, feeling valued!!
Becoming a homeowner has literally saved my life. My life has been shaped to love and live and create

I do not feel punished or abandoned any more. I would never had been able to become a homeowner without my therapist and the chfa program

God bless you, and thank you very much for making this investment in me, in providing programs for low income folks to become a homeowner

No one has ever made this type of commitment to me or with me, in becoming a homeowner and I value this opportunity to be a homeowner, I will protect this investment

Love and belonging and being a part of my community is my homeowner story.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
Cenythia Green (pronounced ka-knee-thee-ah )

A New Beginning
Submitted by Zachary and Heidi Guzman from Colorado Springs

“October?” My husband’s happy face was also mixed with an expression of worry. “October. OK.” Zach drew a deep breath and embraced me. I knew that it would be hard, but I also knew many people had done it before. “So, do you think it is a girl or a boy?” I said as we continued to hug.

It was February and our second baby was due in October. Neither of us could hide the concern we felt raising another child in an apartment barely big enough for us and our two year old daughter, Chloe. Although we were excited for the arrival of our next baby, we struggled to feel at ease about the home we had. Over the next five months, we visited countless apartments, house rentals, and condos looking for a space big enough for our growing family while still staying within a budget. My part-time job as a nurse and my husband’s part-time job as a youth counselor could not bring enough income in for the space that we wanted. With each possible home, we were met with defeat. Then one July evening my husband frantically called me while I was working.

“Heidi, Heidi! Can you get to a computer? You need to look at something.” I typed in the address and hit enter. Before my eyes was a beautiful sight. A cream house with green trim, four bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, nearly 2,000 square feet, wood floors throughout. I was instantly in love.

“So, how much is the rent?” I said sarcastically. My husband’s silence confused me.

“Well, it’s actually for sale”, was his response.

I went on to remind him that home ownership was something we never could afford, but that it was a nice thought. Deep down inside, I wanted the house. I hung up the phone and quietly cried.

“I just wish things were different,” I said to myself.

The next morning we had a viewing scheduled to see a downtown rental. But instead of showing up, we somehow found ourselves standing in front of the cream house with green trim.

“Call them right now,” I said. “I want to see it.” A few hours later, Tracy, a slender brunette met us at the front door. We walked in and out of each room and although I kept to myself, I felt like I was walking in my home. We finished our walk-through and Tracy gave us her card. But still, something didn’t feel right. Surely we could not afford this beautiful home.

“Can we just see if we qualify?” Zach pleaded. “We have a small amount for a down payment. You just never know.”

I reluctantly agreed to call the loan company to punch in some numbers. That evening, we anxiously awaited a phone call from Mel, the loan officer.

“Well I have good news!” she said. She went on to explain that we qualified for a loan that only required a 3% down payment, which is exactly what we had in our savings. We embraced and called Tracy immediately to set up a meeting to put in an offer.

Two months later, we signed on the dotted line and they handed us keys to our first home. We quickly raced over to the house and unlocked the door. This was our home!! And it was the beginning of a new chapter for our family. Both Arizona natives, our numerous life adventures in the Rocky Mountain landscape had brought us many challenges, surprises, and blessings. I believe all things in life happen for a reason and that our story – my story, started a long time ago when my parents brought me home to our first house. But Haley – Haley’s story did begin here. On October 8, 2013 at 5:28am, Haley Simone Guzman took her first breath as we welcomed her into our family. She was born on a cool fall morning at home...our first home was where her story had begun, and somehow it suddenly all made sense.

All things happen for a reason, and even though we didn’t expect to have a second child so quickly, it was truly the reason we had taken the steps to find a house. Her life was the driving force behind this great blessing in front of us. Jet black hair and brown eyes gazed up at me.

“October,” I smiled and kissed her head. “October, my sweet Haley. And this is only the beginning.”

My Own Home - A Place to Belong
Submitted by Kathleen King of Commerce City

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy had it right, "There's no place like home." Or rather there is no place like my OWN home. I am not your typical young family, first time buyer. At past middle age I had thought I was beyond the point in my life when buying a home was an option. And now here I am, loving my home and my new way of life!

If you had asked my while I was renting, I would never had mentioned not feeling like I had a place to belong, but having my own home has totally changed my perspective on what belonging and community means. Renting, no matter how stable, left me with a sense that it was temporary. If the community changed and I didn't like it, I could just move. I now that I own, I feel a real sense of that ownership, not just of the home, but of the neighborhood and community too. It is MY house, MY neighborhood and MY community. I want to be involved, to see it flourish and grow. I want to contribute to the city in which I live. I care about the other homes and the businesses in the area. For the first time in my life I want to really be a part of the community, to shop here, to volunteer here and to join the rec center. The bottom line is that I feel like I have permanency that I never had before!

I really enjoy my neighborhood. I love walking or driving around the neighborhood. I never did this while renting. It didn’t matter then, but it does now. I love knowing my neighbors, caring about them and knowing they care about me. It is with pride that I look out my window and see all of the nice family homes and well-kept yards. The homes are not large or expensive, but they are homey – they are me. They have also connected me to my past in a way I did not expect. The neighbor is not that different from the one in which I grew up. I find myself thinking about where I grew up and the things I did in my childhood home. While growing up I always mowed the lawn, but never thought about who did the trimming and the weeding – hmm, must have been my father even though I don't remember it. I do remember him planting gardens and flowers though and now I love getting out, mowing the lawn and taking care of the flowers, trees and shrubs. I have pride in my yard and I want it to look nice.

The permanence I feel is showing itself in planning and planting in the yard. Just like my father, I have always loved gardens. I was fortunate to buy a house that was beautifully landscaped. Keeping the basics of what was here, I have adapted and given the yard and flowers my own touch. I now research what plant are best for my light and soil condition. For the first time in my life I am looking at buying perennials – I will be here when they come up year after year.

My biggest surprise at owning my own home is how much I love redecorating! One of the first things I did was pull up the carpet and find beautiful hardwood floors underneath. I have spent many hours looking at decorating ideas and selecting paint colors. I am learning to do things myself and take great pride in what I do. In the future I have dreams of someday remodeling as well. That means long term planning. I want to make improvements to my home, that means I have to plan ahead and save money. I have stopped a lot of impulse buying and “retail therapy”. My money now goes for long term ideas and investments in my home. My life has changed! My values have changed! And I am loving it!

In addition to all of this I find that I always have company. This is really funny because I when renting I seldom entertained. I was gone more than I was home. Now, I can't wait to have people over and to share my little house with all of my friends. For the first time, several relative and friends from out of state want to come and visit. So it looks like I will be having more overnight guests too.

Finally, being conscientious and taking care of my house and yard has translated into also taking better care of myself. Some of this comes naturally as I do the yard work and spend more time outside but some of it is my general state of mind. I am kept busy with the house and yard so I don’t sit and “veg” as much. Because I am saving money, I eat out less and that means I am eating healthier and exercising more. I even signed up for an exercise program at work, the first in 5 years! I find that I actually care more about most things now. Taking care of my health, my future, my friends and my pets all go along with belonging in my home, my neighborhood, and my community.

And while I don’t have ruby slippers, I totally agree with Dorothy: There is no place like home!

This Place Called Home
Submitted by Stephen and Cindy Shutt of Fountain

This place called home has made an impact on us forever.
It's a loving, caring place that our family can be together.

It hasn't just been for us, we opened the door to children too.
Those left alone, beaten , and bruised.

Where would they go ? What would they do?
There's no reason a child should feel so blue.

The walls provide security for those that are scared.
Where each child will never be compared.

The floor is a foundation for a baby's first steps.
Which is an important thing, coming from somewhere unkept.

The roof overhead shelters and protects.
Helping get through the nightmares and the abusive effects.

The windows emit beautiful rays of sun.
To ensure the children there is hope, you no longer have to run.

Our front door is open to all sizes and ages.
A portal away from drugs, abuse and cages.

There is no better feeling than giving a child a home
A sculptured, green back yard for a child to roam.

Our house has shaped us as a family, one by one.
And brought permanent light with our now adopted son.

A father, a mother, a daughter, a son.
This place called home, has just begun.

Living the Dream
Submitted by Jesse Suprenant and Megan Ogan of Colorado Springs

Homeownership is certainly an exciting start to a new chapter in our lives after years of being renters and wondering for a time if we would be renting indefinitely. The difference between those two worlds- that of renting a house or owning a home- To Megan and I is as clear as night and day.

I grew up the son of a tradesman. More precisely, hardwood floor installation, sanding, and finishing still to this day is my Dad’s profession. Suffice it to say that he has always been a very hard working man that taught me invaluable life lessons I’ve carried forever. He was a single father raising me, and he didn’t come to purchase his first home until I was a teenager, but everything changed in both of our lives after that came to be. Within five or so years from that time, my Dad and I had completed dozens of projects together and completely transformed that house into a truly incredible home.

The first project I remember doing began by tearing down a wall between two bedrooms in our basement and eventually turning it into one fairly large and amazing bedroom. I remember hesitating at first to even ask if he would even allow it, but when I did he said I could do it so long as I saw it through and cleaned up the mess I made. What a mess it was, but in a deeper sense what a lifelong reward it was as well.

I must have made a hundred trips up and down those stairs for different tools or more garbage bags, but after that initial tear down and clean up, we teamed up to make it something genuinely beautiful. Through that experience, my perspective shifted forever into what became a dream to me through my years of renting.

In a way, at times being a renter was torturous to me because I could see the potential all around me in every house I’ve ever lived in from the day I set out on my own. Though indescribably rewarding, remodeling usually takes quite a bit of time and money and in my experience, very few landlords choose to reimburse their tenants for such things if they even allow it at all.

That summarized piece of my history helps me to iterate the point that home ownership to my partner and I is absolutely a dream come true. Now the two of us get to do whatever we like with all those possibilities we see everywhere around us in our very own home. In the six months we’ve enjoyed first time homeownership, we’ve been able to team up as a couple and complete numerous improvements in our home that we can now enjoy for the rest of our lives.

Since becoming homeowners, we literally doubled our living space from our previous rental. I mention this because it gives us the room to create everything we’ve ever wanted in a home but could never achieve before. In due time we’ll create an office for us both to study in, a gym to exercise in, and two rooms for our greatest pastimes- A darkroom for her photography and a studio for my music. We already have a guest bedroom for when we have company- something we’ve never before had- and a suitable dining room for entertaining friends and family alike. Our first project together here was creating a comfortable and unique media room downstairs for the both of us to enjoy for years to come, and just seeing that room change from the origins of demolition through the steps of completion has been a profound gift to the both of us. While I’m at it, we have cats and a dog and they too love having the space that we now have for the first time in our adult lives.

Home ownership is a positive state of mind as well. From the day we found out that our offer had been accepted we’ve both had a newfound sense of pride, happiness, and fulfillment that is still strong likely for years to come. This very well could be our forever home, especially after the many years we will surely spend here with each other, our friends and our family. I can see myself proposing in this house, the two of us possibly being wed in the backyard, and raising our own family in this house among so many other things. There’s not a rental in my history that I could imagine those events taking place in.

As I thought of the many answers to the question of how owning a home has shaped or influenced my life, I kept thinking that ultimately it allows anybody to try their hand at creating the most ideal environment for themselves. I absolutely love the fact that the two of us can be carpenters, designers, and artists in our own way here like never before, and that’s just to name a few adjectives. In due time, we’ll become landscapers as well to craft our lawn and exterior to be exactly what we envision. I look forward to building things in our workshop I’ve never even attempted before- like one day trying my hand at crafting furniture, constructing a dog house, and making the most awesome mailbox stand on the block!

I suppose at the core of my context is that I’m proud to say this house is now our roots, and a chance for me to be as creative as I dare, whether it’s with the custom hardwood floors I’m putting in (yes, I followed in my Dad’s footsteps in a lot of ways), or framing and building innovative shelves in the basement. That sense of creation is more fundamental to my happiness than I can explain, and for the first time in my life I have the foundation to do it through home ownership.

Home is Where My Story Starts
Submitted by Jeanette Valdez of Pueblo

My life has changed tremendously, since becoming a homeowner. I grew up in a family that was in the poverty side of economics. My parents always had an enormous amount of love for all six of us children; however, I was second to the eldest and often helped with raising my other siblings. We always had a warm bed and a warm meal. Even though as I got older I knew that we struggled and lived pay check to pay check. My parents were on assistance receiving money, food stamps, and housing. We lived in a housing project in the south side of Pueblo, Colorado from the time I was in third grade; until I moved out on my own as a young adult (teen) mother.

I saw my life change; having my first born child as a teen. I moved to Denver, a big city compared to where I grew up as a child. I lived with my husband who was at the time my boyfriend and his family. Within a year we both got jobs in fast food and moved into our own apartment. It was a struggle at times but I worked hard to help provide for my growing family. After two more children being born, I found myself back in Pueblo with my family raising a family of my own.

Then there was tragedy, I lost my best friend, my mother in November of 1997 at 47 years of age. I lost my job at a Subway during her passing. When I thought I had no one to turn to, I was given the opportunity to work at a Christian based daycare where my children had been attending while I worked in the previous job (Subway). Nine months later my father followed my mother and died of a broken heart. I knew then that I had to change my lifestyle or continue the cycle of poverty in a life that seemed hopeless. My spouse received the opportunity to work for the church where I was employed and we were on our way to receiving many blessings.

God had brought me to my calling and I continued my education while working with students in the daycare setting. I eventually received an Associates of General Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education in 2006 along with the graduation of my first born from High School. This was also the year my boyfriend and I were finally married in the church as husband and wife. After we had been married one year we were able to get a loan through CHFA and buy our first home; so by March of 2007 we signed our loan and became homeowners. It was such a huge accomplishment that I knew that I could do anything that I put my heart into with faith.

After working for the daycare for ten years I moved forward with my career, becoming employed for RMSER Head Start for the next four years while working on my Bachelors Degree emphasizing on Elementary Education K-6th. So when I graduated in Dec. of 2010 I was ecstatic things were finally looking up for me and my family.

I worked for the first 6 months for a public school in the east side of Pueblo as a reading interventionist. So I left to work every day with my husband, relieved that I was now on my way to a better lifestyle doing something that I absolutely loved. The contract for that position was up in June and I had to apply for other openings. I had several interviews for positions to stay at the school I was in; however, I did not get the positions. Feeling a little discouraged I was frightened of what we would do to cover our house payment and other bills if I did not receive a job teaching.

Then life seemed to all come together. I received a position working two blocks from my new home as a teacher at Minnequa Elementary. My dreams were finally coming true. Working close to home is a blessing. After the first year at my new school; ten days after summer began, I got really sick. I ended up fighting the whole summer to get well. I had been diagnosed with diverticulitis and endometriosis. So before summer’s end I had surgery to have a hysterectomy and eight inches of colon removed. I insisted on going back to work so with five days in the hospital and five days at home, I returned to school on the first day back. I felt I had to for the sake of my family because we could not get by with just my spouse’s income. Since the “student teaching” part of my career and now the catching up of bills because of the surgery and hospital stays that occurred in summer (a series of many). I have fallen behind one mortgage payment. Always being able to pay the month’s payment due on the first at the end of the month; therefore, still struggling to catch up.

Through it all I can say that I have a healthy family including children and now grandchildren, a home of my own, a wonderful spouse, and a gracious God. The mortgage payment would be a blessing to my family in that we could catch up and finally be on track with our mortgage. Thank you CHFA for giving me the opportunity to live the dream and have a home of my own. I work in a career close to home where I walk to work every day and serve the children in my community as their teacher. I love spending time with my family including my children their spouses and my grandchildren. This truly is an asset I can leave to my children and grandchildren when it is my calling to leave this wonderful amazing life.

Kindest regards and many thanks,
Jeanette Marie Valdez (Armijo-maiden)

My Home
Submitted by Confidential of Thornton.

Note: This winning contestant is a domestic violence victim. At their request we are keeping their identity and entry submission confidential to protect their privacy and safety. ​​