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Contest Entries

My Mother's Garden

Entrants: Cynthia Lester

Affiliation: MSNBC


Year: 2009

Place: Third Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

"My Mother's Garden" is the story of 61-year-old Eugenia Lester, whose hoarding disorder has taken a life-threatening turn. Lester lives among piles of debris and rotting garbage that have literally pushed her out of her house and into her garden. Upon learning that Eugenia is in danger of losing her home for violating city health codes, her children step in.

Judges' comments: An extraordinary effort to give some insight into a little-known disease and how it impacts everyone around this woman. The shot of the boy's tattoo of Mom with the line through it was so telling. At first you thought wow this lady is hoarding all this stuff, but you don't get the full dimensions of how damaging this is to her family. It was incredible to watch how crippling it was for this woman to come home to a clean house. All that garbage was gone but she was so crestfallen. ... it really showed the depths of her mental illness. Great work.

See "My Mother's Garden."

See the contest questionnaire about how this story was reported.