Cutler Bay woman helps decorate White House for holidays

Hazel Bethel, a military veteran, spent 4 days putting up decor

CUTLER BAY, Fla. – A Cutler Bay woman, who is an immigrant and a military veteran, got the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., to help President Barack Obama and the first family decorate for the holidays.

Hazel Bethel spent four days with hundreds of volunteers decorating 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

It all started with a letter that Bethel's daughter wrote on her behalf.

"I remembered her watching the shows and she said it was always something she wanted to do," Carla Hill said.

In her letter, Hill wrote about her mother's journey to the U.S. as an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, and how she enlisted in the military.

"I enlisted in the Army in 1975," Bethel said. "I served this country with all my heart. I love this country."

Bethel, a retiree of Miami-Dade Public Schools, said she worked on decorating the east colonnade of the White House with ribbons and beads.

"Was it hard work?" Local 10 News reporter Neki Mohan asked.

"Yes. I have never worked that hard in my life," Bethel said.

Bethel said volunteers started early and worked late. On the last day, she was told that she could introduce the first lady.

"The minute she came on, I started bawling," Bethel said.

Along with memories of the time spent with the first lady, she said the time spent decorating with her fellow volunteers makes her proud to live in this country.

"Our team consisted of people from different states and we worked together. If the rest of America can do that, we would be fine," she said.


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