As home transformations go, they do not come much more life-changing than this.
Little over a month ago, Treasan Myles stood in the tumble-down bedroom she shares with her 5-year-old daughter, Kelana, crouching under the ramshackle timber roof.
A backed-up pipe was leaking sewage into the sleeping quarters and holes were beginning to open up in the floor.
Last week, she stood in the same spot, watching her daughter playing happily on her new bunk bed, struggling to believe this was the same house.
In just a few weeks, a small army of skilled tradesmen and volunteers mobilized by the charity Acts of Random Kindness have renovated half of the home.
The roof has been torn down and rebuilt to modern planning standards, new tiled flooring has been installed along with an en suite bathroom and shower. A new room, with a painted mural from the movie Frozen, has been created for Kelana, and the faulty plumbing has been repaired.
“I am overwhelmed,” Ms. Myles told the Cayman Compass.
“I can actually breathe. It feels like a good breath of fresh air. I could never be more grateful.”
ARK has been running its Cayman CASA program, which helps renovate unsafe housing for families in need, for several years.
But Tara Nielsen, who runs the charity, says she has never seen such an overwhelming community response as the outpouring of support for Ms. Myles and her daughter.
Some donated money. Some gave their expertise. Others donated time.
“We’ve been donated everything from bunk beds to rugs to bedding, mattresses, tiles, paint, volunteers, fans, funds. I could go on and on telling you what we have been donated from this amazing community,” she said.
ARK hired Dream Maker Bath and Kitchen to transform the living quarters. They were supported by volunteers from Ogier and The Ritz-Carlton who painted the home, inside and out.
Ms. Nielsen said the experience had been transformative for Ms. Myles.
“When we met her, she was feeling depressed and hopeless and now she is glowing because this has shown here she is not alone.”
There is still work to do, however.
ARK held another fundraising event Saturday to raise money to tackle the other side of the home.
Ms. Nielsen said the first priority had been to create a safe sleeping space for Ms. Myles and her daughter. Next, the charity plans to rebuild the kitchen and living area, where part of the roof has collapsed.
She said someone has already donated “an entire kitchen” but the appliances can’t be installed until the floor and roof are repaired.
“We need the same miracle as we had for the bedrooms,” she said.
“My goal is new roof, new ceiling, new floor and more volunteers to paint it and then we can complete the kitchen.”
She said the next phase would likely begin in May after the latest round of fundraising.
Ms. Nielsen said she had been hugely encouraged by the generosity of the community on this project.
She said there were many more homes in poor condition around Cayman, some of which had not been repaired properly since Hurricane Ivan. ARK prioritizes cases where the health and safety of young children are affected.
“We have had lots of appeals and there is a long waiting list. We constantly get sent photographs. It is really a bottomless pit of homes that need improving.
“We could just keep on going. It is a matter of funds, time, resources and how long the community can keep up this amazing support.”
For Ms. Myles, the process has inspired her to want to help others.
“I have never really seen a lot of big movements like that. It really moved me, especially in my life and where I come from here.
“It keeps your spirits up and makes you feel better, makes you want to do better and help other people.”