Think bright colors, daily affirmations and overflowing faith, and you’ll be envisioning Winston-Salem resident and grateful Habitat for Humanity participant, Hazel Griffin.
From the Heart
A devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Hazel exudes pure love and joy with every word and every smile, and her home reflects every ounce of that joy. When Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County thoughtfully considered who would be the most inspiring subject for their cover story, the choice was easy.
Everyone who knows Hazel has seen her become quite emotional when she talks about getting a Habitat home. She welcomes you inside (while pointing out her beautifully detailed yard and prized front porch) with love and compassion, and makes you feel as if something wonderful is always just about to happen!
Hazel beams when she talks about her new status as a homeowner, and is the proudest anyone could be of this amazing new home. Every room reflects her personality and inner spirit, and she is absolutely the most gracious hostess! She’ll tell you right away that her faith comes first, and her Bible sits in the living room, ready when she’s ready to soak in a favorite verse. Sticky notes on doors and windows – to remind her of a favorite quote or daily devotional – are common.
Artful decor in the hallway reminds us to “Be Kind. Be Humble.” There’s a sign in the den that reminds us to “Pray big. Worry small.” Once you meet Hazel, those couldn’t be more appropriate.
“I am so happy,” says Hazel, whose home dedication was April 19, 2022. She moved in a week later, already with a careful vision of how every room in the 1,200-square-foot house would come together. The white rockers you see on her spacious front porch were purchased early on, as she knew that porch would become her favorite spot. Habitat planted crepe myrtle trees and rose bushes to kick off the home’s garden area, and Hazel waters and nurtures both every day.
“Only God knows how happy I am. At 69 years old, I have never been a homeowner,” she explains. “After my husband passed away, I knew it was my time!”
As a renter, Hazel had struggled with her vertigo and climbing concrete steps daily to her second-floor apartment, and she passionately wanted a spot of her own to be able to sit outside and relax. Once she was approved for home ownership, the Habitat classes convinced her she was ready to take that step.
“I have composition books full of notes,” says Hazel. “We learned how to take care of a yard, how to fix simple things and how to weatherize. I love the Habitat program; my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.”
Hazel tells how she drove to the house every day during the building phase, helped carry in the walls, took so many pictures and loves to show folks her “fresh blessed dirt” from the lot, which she has labeled in a large plastic bag for safe keeping!
“Once they put up the walls, it was such a blessing,” says Hazel. “My home was finally being built.” She and her sister blessed the newly finished home with a prayer, followed by moving in all the treasures she had intentionally chosen for each room.
An 11-year breast cancer survivor as of this July, Hazel is one of nine siblings, all still living, as well as her 91-year-old mother who lives in Eden, NC, where the family landed after leaving West Virginia. When Hazel later remarried, her husband wanted to move to Winston-Salem to be near family, and she’s been in love with this area ever since coming here in 1982. Hazel is very active at her church, currently works part-time as a kitchen assistant at Atkins High School and she admits she can call most of the students by name! But, her family is her pride and joy, including daughters Izetta Hale and Christina Hale, and her granddaughter, India Johnson, who all stopped by for the photo shoot. In all, Hazel has three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and she’s thrilled to be able to host family Christmas celebrations in her new home.
“This house is MINE. I don’t have to fight for a parking space. I can plant flowers, sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. It’s never too late! Without God and Habitat, I wouldn’t be where I am now!”
Studies have shown that when a child grows up in a Habitat home, they have better health outcomes, do better in school and, overall, their future looks brighter. The Habitat homeownership program enables families to purchase a safe and affordable home, which is also the beginning of generational wealth. When asked what the most important reason they became a Habitat homeowner is, most will say “Now I have something to leave my children.”
A global non-profit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the United States, and in more than 70 countries around the world, the Habitat for Humanity program equips families to become sustainable homeowners. Participants must also be able and willing to pay an affordable mortgage, and Habitat mortgage payments are cycled back into the community to help build additional Habitat houses.
“Our Education Curriculum covers many topics including financial awareness, such as creating and building a savings account, how to deal with financial emergencies, budgets, insurance, debt and credit counseling,” says Paola Candelaria, Director of Family Services. “Participants also spend time learning about social and emotional wellness, estate planning, home maintenance and landscaping techniques, and avoiding foreclosure. Our classes equip them with important tools for the future.”
Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County is located at 1023 West 14th Street in Winston-Salem, 336.765.8854. Learn more about their programs for home ownership at habitatforsyth.org. Many local individuals helped with building Hazel’s home, along with these groups: WFU APO Fraternity, WFU Wesley Student Fellowship, Truist Bank, The Do School, Our Cornerstone Team members, Concordia University, Brandeis University and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.
Habitat for Humanity
a poem by Hazel Griffin
What a great way to be friendly
Build a house or two and give them away to me or you
Habitat for Humanity keeping people healthy
You can live a lot longer
Because making houses makes you stronger
You can’t tell me there isn’t anything keen in America
Look around and see there’s people helping to free the homeless in America
Habitat for Humanity
I hope you have your hammer ready
Nail a nail or two and build a house for me or you
Let’s get involved and please, your donations are needed
Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live