Judith Hayse never thought there would be so many police officers at her home at one time.
“Pass me the paint, please,” one cop said to another.
Another officer swiped the sweat off his forehead, chugged some water, and continued sweeping the driveway.
“They just keep blessing me and blessing me,” Hayse, 64, said, with a wide smile and teary eyes. She gave a small jump. “I’ve learned that you never know where your blessings will come from. This is awesome, awesome, awesome!”
On Saturday, officers from Miami-Dade Police’s Northside District completed their first weeklong beautification project on Hayse’s home on Little River Boulevard.
Employees from Lowe's Home Improvement and Aaron Agriculture in Miami, along with a group from Miami-Dade County Public School’s 5000 Role Models club, donated materials and volunteered with the Northside’s Community Oriented Policing Unit officers.
Together they patched up holes, pressure cleaned, primed, painted, planted flowers and new grass and repaired the driveway along with entrance handrails.
“Every morning, I will stand outside with my coffee and say ‘Thank you!’” Hayse said. “It really was a shock to me when they came and explained all they wanted to do.”
Hayes, who has lived in the home for more than 40 years, had undertaken an improvement project months ago but was halted amid major financial trouble and the passing away of her elderly parents. Her hardships worsened when her septic tank backed up, and led to minor flooding of the property, which brought her project to a complete standstill. Her kitchen cabinets, tiles and roof remain severely water-damaged.
“We felt she would be the perfect candidate to try to help out,” Carter said, noting that the department is limited to fixing only the exterior of the home due to the permitting process. “There are many opportunities to protect the community, but not as many to serve the community. We really want to do our best to improve the public perception of law enforcement, and try to show them that we are from the community, that we care for the community and that we want to give back.”
Carter said he initiated the project out of concern for the well-being of people within the district’s jurisdiction along and passion to help those residents.
“It’s so gratifying,” Carter said. “Sometimes we forget that not everybody is as fortunate as us. It takes nothing for us, just a few hours of our time; a few dollars to come help someone."
Carter’s goal was to make Hayse’s home “as beautiful as when she first received her keys more than 40 years ago.” He said his hope is that the Northside District can work on beautifying four homes belonging to people in need a year.
Hayse, a retired medical records clerk from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, lives in the single-family home with two of her three daughters, ages 29 and 30, and her 6-year-old grandson.
“She’s been waiting for this for a long time,” said her daughter, Sonya Phillips, 42. “It shows that you gotta keep praying and keep pushing and your dreams will come true.”
Daughter Jamia Hayse, 30, who lives at the house, said the revitalization will make this “more of a home.”
“It looks so different seeing a different color on the house; a good different. The color is so much brighter than it used to be,” she said of the house that transformed from a dull gray to a vivid beige.
“We might just pass the house,” Phillips said, giggling.
The room was filled with laughter.
“It’s true. You might not be able to recognize it.”