Stacy Deborah Haynes always loved books. But even more, she loved the people in her life.
“Stacy had a voracious love of life and people,” says her friend, Janet Porter Garman, who belonged to a group with Haynes unofficially and jokingly dubbed by its members, “The Sometimes We Finish the Book Book Club.”
“She loved books, but even more important for her was the chance to catch up once a month with her friends,” Garman says. “She loved the social aspect of it all.”
To honor the memory of Haynes, who died Aug. 10 at age 49 after a long battle with osteosarcoma, Garman and fellow club members Dr. Risa Weiner Huber and Jennifer Geare Osterweil are creating a little free library bearing her name.
The llibrary will be located outside of the Early Childhood Center at the Owings Mills Jewish Community Center, at 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., at a specific site to be determined in the near future.
So far, club members have collected more than 150 books for the library after posting on social media an Amazon list of requested titles on Oct. 13, which would have been Haynes’ 50th birthday.
The group is also accepting donations of gently used books from the community comprised of all subject matters and for all ages.
The books collected so far for what’s called Stacy’s Little Free Library are currently stored in Huber’s Reisterstown basement until the library is officially dedicated and installed. At any given time, the library will hold approximately 35 books and be constantly managed and restocked by the club of 10 members and others.
A Randallstown native and graduate of West Virginia University, Haynes lived in Reisterstown and was a married mother of two who worked in the insurance industry. She and other young moms founded the book club 14 years ago while sending their children to the Owings Mills JCC’s preschool.
“Stacy was an incredible human being, and she alone is a story in itself of how she spread love wherever she went,” says Haynes’ friend, Jen Milstein Johnson, a supporter of the llibrary project. In a Facebook tribute to Haynes, Johnson wrote, “She was loved by so many people and left her mark and her smile on this Earth.”
Garman says the idea for the Stacy’s Little Free Library project came up because “I was trying to wrap my brain around how to honor Stacy’s memory. She was an incredible person, just a ray of light, and she battled [osteosarcoma] with such grace and dignity. I thought the club would be willing to donate a library in her memory, and everyone was on board.”
Garman says that Osterweil contacted the JCC about installing the library there since that’s where the club founders first met, and “[JCC Chief Executive Officer] Barak [Hermann] was fabulous and said, ‘Yes!’”
Garman says Stacy’s Little Free Library will be painted a vibrant blue and feature a memorial nameplate and graphic image of a sunflower, which was Haynes’ favorite flower. The graphic will be created by Osterweil.
Garman says club members also hope to eventually plant a small memorial garden around the library.
“With all of the craziness of this past year and the sadness with Stacy’s passing, this [project] is a light for all of us,” Garman says. “It’s such a challenging time for so many people, so it’s nice to have a positive story. So many people have reached out to us already to contribute. I know that Stacy would so happy to know something positive was going on in her honor.”
For information about Stacy’s Little Free Library, Garman says community members can reach out to her or Dr. Risa Weiner Huber on their Facebook pages. A Facebook page dedicated to the library will be created in the near future.
Haynes is survived by her husband of 24 years, Bill; her children, Zachary and Zoe; her parents, Frank and Rhoda Smith; her brother, Michael Smit; her siblings-in-law, Lisa and Chris Kee and Heather and Joseph O’Malley, her nieces and nephew Gage, Chloe, Carter, and Ava Smith, and Nicole, Gillian and Christopher Kee, and her parents-in-law Ronald and Pam Haynes. Contributions in her honor may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 405 Williams Court, Suite 120, Baltimore, Md. 21220.