Retired teacher Anne Glancey had a major problem on her hands. In the ensuing years of teaching in the public school system, the elderly Glancey had become reclusive and disconnected from the outside world. She had no friends, no family, and was running dangerously low on financial resources.
That’s what made the notice she got from the city of New Hamilton, New Jersey so devastating. With her home having fallen into disrepair, the city was ordering her to bring the lot up to code. The paint on the house needed to be scraped off and repainted, the grass needed to be cut, and a rusty old car needed to be removed from sight.
If she failed to comply, she would be assessed a fine of $1,000 per day, per fine. On the extremely limited income afforded to a retired schoolteacher, and with nobody to turn to for support, Glancey didn’t know what she was going to do.
Estimates to bring the property up to code would have cost Anne Glancey $10,000 to $15,000.
Little did Glancey know that the answer to her troubles weren’t just around the corner, but rather they were next door.
Adam and Kristin Polhemus had been living next door to Anne for about five years. They exchanged pleasantries on occasion, but her reclusive nature kept them from developing a substantial friendship.
But as time passed, Adam, 35, and Kristin, 34, made greater and greater efforts to bring Anne out of her socially isolated life, eventually stopping by every day to chat. “We formed a friendship,” said Adam, a New Jersey state trooper.
When they found out about the fines Anne was facing, they knew they had to do something; Anne felt helpless. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, I can’t do this myself,” she said.
“Anne, we’ll help you get this fixed,” Adam told his elderly neighbor.
The two got to work, but knowing that they couldn’t do it alone, they enlisted the help of friends and other neighbors. Before long, there were a number of volunteers pitching in every weekend to help Anne revitalize her property.
It took the entire summer, with teams of as many as 25 volunteers generously donating their time, effort, and energy to get the house up to par. But what was most incredible, Adam says, is the way that Anne started to come out of her shell. The shy and withdrawn former schoolteacher began smiling and socializing with the volunteers.
Once living in total isolation, Anne was now baking homemade carrot cake and fresh squeezed orange juice to those who were helping her.
“To see the joy on our neighbor’s face, I think the biggest thing is Anne’s happiness and her kind of restored life,” Adam said.
Anne’s house was scraped of the old, chipping paint, and a fresh layer was applied. The grass was cut, and the rusted-out old Mercury that ornamented the front yard was hauled away. Thanks to the efforts of a team of do-gooders, Anne was eventually cleared of all the fines.
Hamilton Township authorities have officially erased all of Anne’s property violations. And best of all, she has a whole new group of friends that she socializes with.
The team might have showed up with hammers, chisels, wheelbarrows, and ladders, but what they were really making new was Anne’s spirit. Her revamped home is a reflection of her revamped outlook on life thanks to a kindhearted group of people who sought nothing in return for lending a hand in her time of need.
With a smile, and weeks of manual labor, the transformation on Anne’s property was incredible. The final result of their work was truly an inspiration.
“I appreciate their generosity,” Anne says of her big-hearted neighbors. “They are good Samaritans, really wonderful and thoughtful. Not everyone would arise to the occasion and I am grateful for it.”