Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Tonight, I'll be attending a dinner at Housing Works Stand Up Harlem House to honor a dozen or so folks who have been volunteering at Housing Works thrift stores for ten or more years.

I had the opportunity to interview a bunch of these local heroes for the Volunteer section of the Housing Works website. Here's my write-up of Jain Klain, pictured to the left.

Jane Klain has spent many of her years as a volunteer pricing and displaying donations of books. To her delight, customers refer to Jane as “The Book Lady” and request her expertise when they come by the store to find books about specific topics. “One person always wants to know about poetry books, another person asks for vegetarian cookbooks, and another customer comes looking for mysteries,” says Jane. She has come to know these and many other customers over the years by their particular interests.

Jane recalls how, at the time of its inception, Housing Works was the only organization in the country with job training for people living with AIDS. “Housing Works has always represented an important mindset, which is one of hope,“ Jane observes. “With programs like job training as part of its offerings, HW assumed that one day there would not be AIDS. There was a built-in idea of a future for the people the organization was helping.”

Jane has directly witnessed how lives have changed because of the mission and programs of Housing Works. Remembering a teenager who lost her mother, Jane shares how the organization became that young person’s family, overseeing her education and giving her the support and structure she needed to carry on with daily life.

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