Metro Detroit police officers see family in need, start home makeover

Posted at 6:45 AM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 15:16:49-04

There’s no flashing lights, no emergency, but police are on the scene.

At a home nestled along the 4000 block of Harvard Street on Detroit’s east side, a handful of Grosse Pointe Public Safety officers have traded in there cuffs for pry-bars, work gloves and house cleaning gear.

The men are cleaning, and repairing, the home of Dorothy and Chris Howett.

Chris Howett, 57, is an adult with needs. He and his mother live alone. Dorothy Howett’s husband left the pair when Chris was just a baby. Ever since the two have been on their own. That was fine for many years, but now Howett has her own health issues.

Earlier this year, the pair locked themselves out of their home. Chris Howett rode his bike to the Grosse Pointe fire station and asked Mike Almeranti for help. The pair have known each other for years, in fact, most people in those parts know Howett because he’s been doing unofficial safety patrol rides throughout the neighboring communities for years.

Almeranti went to the Howett’s home to let them back into their home, but noticed that they needed a bit of help.

He talked it over with some other public safety officers in Grosse Pointe, and they decided they wanted to help out. It spurred a pretty big movement.

“They were very nice about it saying they didn’t want to interfere,” said Dorothy Howett. “I was like, ‘Interfere?’”

Howett laughed, pointing out that she knew she could use any help she could get adding, “It’s so much help. It was a surprise, they asked for permission, and of course, I said yes.”

Officers took up a fund, and started raising money for the cleanup. Quickly donations started pouring in, as well.

They’re removing shutters and replacing them with new ones. Carpet has been torn up, and it will be replaced as well. There will be new paint donated by Sherwin Williams, in fact, they’ll be sending a crew to do the interior painting. Officers will handle the outside.

Work is being done to repair the garage — it doesn’t have electricity meaning Dorothy Howett needs to lift it manually, quite the challenge for the 87-year-old.

“We’re just trying to do something nice for them,” said Almeranti.

The Howetts didn’t ask for the help, but others saw they needed it. Now neighbors are helping bring food and drinks over, but businesses are doing the same.

J & J Disposal donated a dumpster. Protector Door is giving the Howetts new, safer, doors. Allemon’s Nursery is helping with landscaping, and Rick Schroeder; an electrician, is doing work around the home as well. Countless businesses are feeding all the volunteers from Grosse Pointe Public Safety and the Michigan State Police Fugitive Task force that decided to donate their time.

“It’s very, very nice,” said Chris Howett. “Surprising actually! Some of these guys I’ve known since I was a kid.”

The officers behind the home renovation tell 7 Action News that they know this won’t look like the old-TV show Extreme Home Makeover rolled through town, but they’re hoping a few changes will give them more years inside the home — and remind them that they’re a welcome part of the community.

A GoFundMe page has already been started for those who want to help the family out. Go here to help.