Our Community - Mel Spain - "The 'Golden Girl' of San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 39            October 4, 2001

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Mel Spain

In this ever-changing world in which success is what many wish for, it is rare to find people that possess the quality of simply caring for others. Leadership skills seem to be what many look for in those who are at the forefront of this community. To find an individual who, apart from his or her leadership skills, is also friendly, humble, ambitious and hard working is a plus. That is the case of this week's personality who possesses these qualities and more - Ms. Merlene "Mel" Spain. 

    Mel was born in the village of Georgeville in the Cayo District on May 23rd, 1953 to Margaret and Matthew Spain (deceased). Coming from a family of 19 children (ten girls and nine boys), Mel learned to share and cooperate with others from a very young age. Her family was a very humble one, so Mel learned to adapt very well and to make the best of difficult situations. These traits proved to be assets for Mel and helped her to excel in the future.

    Mel attended Saint Barnabas Elementary School in Central Farm, Cayo District. Because of financial restraints, Mel was unable to further her education and instead went to work in the family's grocery store that her father built as a means to sustain them. As a young girl, Mel was very athletic and was known for her excellent shortstop and pitching skills on the local female softball team. When softball season was over, Mel joined soccer, making her one of the few females on the team.

    In 1970, Mel moved to Belmopan where she lived for two years with a "well-to-do" family who took her in as one of their children. She was then given the opportunity to travel to the United States of America where she lived for five years. While in the US, Mel worked in a jewelry shop where she learned the ins and outs of this very "brilliant" business. Upon her return to Belize, Mel went back to Cayo for a short time before making a decision to move to San Pedro.

    It was 1985 when she relocated to "La Isla Bonita" in search of a different lifestyle. Using her savings, Mel began a new life on the island. Determined to make this decision work, Mel went to work for the Hideaway Hotel. She held a variety of positions from waitress to bartender and eventually became manager. After four years in this business, Ms. Spain felt it was time to move on and resigned from the job.

    Mel also found love in San Pedro when she met Mike Estell. Today, their family consists of six children, one girl and five boys. As a family woman, Mel devoted most of her time to her children and her "better-half" but also as a hard working woman she felt she needed to do her part to help with the family expenses. Mel used the knowledge of jewelry she had gained in the US to invest in this business. She began selling jewelry door-to-door, something she still does today and is well known for.

    Being a very social person, Mel volunteered her time to the various fundraisers and charity events held in San Pedro over the years. This devotion caught the attention of the island's leaders who approached Mel and asked her to run as a candidate in the next Town Council election. At first Mel was skeptical because she felt she did not have enough schooling or political background to support this position. She then changed her mind explaining, "Even though I was not able to further my education I felt I had a lot of common sense. I must have been doing something right since they chose me for this position." Her many friends soon backed Mel in her decision and in March 2000, she was elected a town councilor. As expected, Mel Spain took her post seriously and immediately started to work for her community. Her first portfolio was as Chairperson of the San Pedro Tourism Committee. Since then, Mel has been instrumental in organizing the annual Mother's Day program for the past two years, the Dia de San Pedro festivities and most recently, the Miss San Pedro Pageant and September Celebrations. Mel Spain has also been selected and honored as a Justice of the Peace.

    In March of 2001, Mel's efforts were compensated when she was elected Deputy Mayoress of San Pedro Town. Carrying even more weight on her shoulders has not slowed Deputy Mayoress Spain down. Being a very down-to-earth person with a pleasant disposition she has gained a lot respect from the people of this town. "There are many things I would still like to do for this community," commented Ms. Spain. "Some of my priorities include more activities for the youth. Having had much fun while I was a young girl, I would like to see a softball team formed in San Pedro. For me personally, I hope to join the San Pedro Lions Club which I believe is a wonderful organization in San Pedro, and one that I admire a lot," ended Deputy Mayoress Spain.

    It has now been sixteen years since Mel Spain left the western part of the country and settled in San Pedro. Here, she has built a home, made a lovely family and continues to serve her community. A mother, businesswoman and an active citizen in this town, Mel Spain is without a doubt a wonderful addition and a respected leader who stands out like a shining diamond in "Our Community."

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