New homeowner cuts ribbon and opens door to her new home

Hazel Griffin cuts the ribbon to her new home in the Dreamland Park neighborhood.

New homeowner cuts ribbon and opens door to her new home
April 27
18:48 2022

At 67, Hazel Griffin became a first-time homeowner through Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. Her house is the first to be built in decades in the historic Dreamland Park neighborhood in Winston-Salem, a once-thriving community that declined after urban renewal.

Hazel’s home on Emerald Street was dedicated on Tuesday, April 19,  Mayor Allen Joines and Councilmember Annette Scippio, who has been an outspoken advocate for the revitalization of Dreamland Park, participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

A cancer survivor, Hazel has some ongoing health issues including vertigo, which made coming and going from her second-floor apartment challenging. She was tired of having no outdoor space to quietly enjoy and dealing with neighbors’ loud music. She is particularly thrilled that her Habitat home includes a porch large enough for several rocking chairs.

For years, Hazel doubted her ability to deal with the maintenance issues that would come with owning a home. “Some of the older people in my family said, ‘Oh no, let the landlord take care of things that need fixing.’ You just sometimes get caught up in one way of thinking.”

After many hours of home maintenance, life skills and financial classes that all Habitat homeowners are required to take, Hazel is confident that she is ready. “I have composition books full of notes. We learned how to take care of a yard, how to fix simple things, how to weatherize. I love the Habitat program. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.” Her enthusiasm led her to earn more than her required number of “sweat equity” hours, particularly at the Habitat ReStore on Peter’s Creek Parkway. 

Her new Habitat home is also a symbolic new beginning for Dreamland Park. With more than 100 vacant lots, Dreamland Park is one of 13 neighborhoods near Smith Reynolds Airport that are the focus of the United Way Place Matters Initiative. Habitat is the United Way’s housing partner in the initiative. United Way is a partial funder of Hazel’s house.

The revitalization of Dreamland Park has generated excitement in the neighborhood. Residents who grew up there recall many happy memories of walking to a creek and to mom-and-pop stores. George Black, a nationally renowned Black brick maker, had his brickyard there, and the neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, some of the community was razed to make way for urban renewal. Over time, about two-thirds of the remaining homes became rental property. 

When friends and family come to visit Hazel in her new home in Dreamland Park, they will likely find her waiting for them in a rocker on the front porch. “I’ll know that this house is MINE,” she said. “I won’t have to fight for a parking space. I can plant flowers. I can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. It’s never too late! No one can tell me I can’t own a home. Without God and Habitat, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a safe, healthy place to live, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County started helping local families in 1985. The housing organization has since served over 550 families and individuals build or improve the places they can call home. To learn more, visit

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