Habitat honors 88-year-old volunteer with dedication of ReStore Book Nook

Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2019 10:09 am


Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland recently unveiled the newest addition to its ReStore: a specially designed book nook that not only displays the books it has for sale, but also serves as a dedication to a particularly faithful Habitat employee named Hazel Spain.

Having served with Habitat since 2005, the 88-year-old Spain originally started with the nonprofit when Habitat was still located at its original location, Broad Street United Methodist Church.

“I think the William Shakespeare quote went something like, “Though she be but little, she is fierce,’ and that describes Ms. Hazel so well,” said Habitat volunteer services manager LaManda Bowers. “She has so much passion and tenacity. I met her seven years ago when I started at Habitat. She puts her entire heart and soul into this organization.”

Bowers added she’s never seen anyone love books like Spain does, and praised Spain’s desire to instill a love of reading in others.

Spain is often called Habitat of Cleveland’s “paparazzi,” as her job once involved taking countless photos for scrapbooking purposes, and she continues to capture images even now. Due to this love of scrapbooking, Habitat’s staff presented her with a scrapbook filled with photos of herself throughout her years of service.

“One of the first things Hazel did was to help our staff with filing, and she grew from there to take pictures of all of our events, construction sites and dedications, and would scrapbook those. So, a lot of our history is in direct relation to Hazel Spain,” said Habitat of Cleveland Executive Director Tammy Johnson.

Having a file of every Habitat of Cleveland home built since its inception, Spain also clips  photos and articles from media coverage over the years for Habitat's scrapbook.

Aside from scrapbooking, another passion of Spain’s is tending to the books in the Habitat ReStore. Her duties involve processing donated books, putting them on the shelves and selling them, with all proceeds going to help build Habitat homes.

Johnson proudly said Spain’s work brings in around $17,000 per year to Habitat through book sales alone.

“Hazel is one of those people who gives so unselfishly behind the scenes, so I thought it was time to honor her. I approached the teams about dedicating this book nook to her, and everyone just came together to honor this amazing woman,” Johnson said.

She added she believes the nook will increase book sales in the ReStore, as it offers a larger section for the books and even a spot to sit and browse.

This is the first section of the ReStore that is specifically dedicated to a Habitat volunteer, with the area being dubbed the Hazel Spain Book Nook.

Spain took a moment to recognize all of the construction crew, led by assistant supervisor Jesus Trujillo, for all their hard work with Habitat and the creation of the beautiful facade now bearing her name.

“I feel honored to be receiving this,” Spain said. “I think this facade they’ve built for my book nook will draw the eyes of customers and increase traffic to the book section for people who may normally have ignored it.”

She explained when she first moved to Cleveland years ago, she needed something to do. She knew about Habitat because it was located at Broad Street United Methodist, and the church was one of the few places she knew how to get to, so she ended up working for Habitat. She says she’s certainly glad she did.

“I met all these people as they came to volunteer, and it was almost like you knew everyone. It was like a family with everyone being so friendly and nice. Habitat’s mission is very important, as it’s such a good thing to help people get good housing,” she added.

Habitat of Cleveland is completing four homes this year, and upon completion, will have constructed 139 homes since its inception.

The Hazel Spain Book Nook is now open for business.

Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland is located at 300 Grove Ave., and can be reached at 423-473-4610.