A year ago, Treasan Myles was contemplating a bleak Christmas in the ramshackle timber home she shares with her young daughter Kelana. The roof leaked, the walls were coming apart, there was mold throughout the property and sewage was spilling from a backed-up pipe. The building was literally falling to pieces.
“There were holes in the roof, holes in the ceiling. There was a hole in me,” she remembers.
In a notebook, Ms. Myles wrote out a prayer for her family’s future. Now, 12 months later, she sits in the bright, painted sitting room of her refurbished home after a massive community effort that has seen her house and her life transformed.
“My prayers really all got answered,” she said, as she showed the Cayman Compass around the home. The rotted timber has been replaced with polished wood flooring, the roof has been rebuilt, the exterior walls reinforced, the kitchen remodeled and outfitted with appliances. An adjoining building has been renovated to create a bedroom for Treasan and a separate room for 6-year-old Kelana, complete with a bunk bed. There is also a room for Ms. Myles’s sister. The sewage problem has been resolved and she says the house is now a safe place for her daughter to grow up.
The final phase of the transformation was completed this week by a crew from Rawlinson & Hunter – the latest selection of volunteers assembled by charity Acts of Random Kindness – for the year-long project.
ARK, through its Cayman CASA program, coordinates with local businesses and individuals to provide funds, labor and expertise to renovate unsafe housing for families in need.
Tara Nielsen, who runs the charity, said hundreds of volunteers had stepped up to help.
Despite working full time, she said Ms. Myles would not have been able to change her situation without the community’s help. Photographs of the home, published in the Compass in February last year, helped inspire the effort.
“The people in this country really care for each other,” said Ms. Nielsen.
“It took hundreds of acts of kindness from the whole community to get this done. People donated time, resources, money, skill, labor. There is hardly a gift I can mention that they haven’t given to this family.
“There was no way she was going to get out of this situation without help and I am proud to have been part of it and to have met Treasan and her family. They have been gracious and humble and have mucked in and helped with all the work.”
Ms. Myles says she can never repay the kindness of the community.
“I am very grateful for all the help that has been given to me and my family and there is nothing I can really say that expresses that. Hopefully, I can help someone else the next time ARK does this,” she said.
For ARK, the work continues. In the new year, Ms. Nielsen will review a long list of requests for help from scores of families living in unsafe housing. With resources limited, the charity can only help one or two families a year, and focuses on picking worthy candidates and cases where children are at risk.
Ms. Nielsen said she hopes the “ripple effect” from the good work done on the Myles home will inspire others to help on the next project.
“This community has shown time and again that it is a caring, generous community,” she said. “That is why we are still in business after 13 years. So now we will move on and try to help another family and ask the community to help us and continue to pay it forward.”
Multiple businesses helped on the Myles home project, including Phoenix Group, Carne Global Financial Services, Rugs.KY, KA Associates, Elite Marble and Granite, Dream Maker Bath and Kitchen, Ogier, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Digicel, Otis Air, IWC, Cayman Consignment and 7 Mile Strength and Fitness.