Gloria Scott, 72, was living alone without running water. Her ceiling was leaking and raccoons were getting in. When sparks began to shoot from one of her light fixtures, she called a professional to help.
Electrician John Kinney responded to the call. But he immediately saw that electrical issues were not the only hardship Scott was enduring on her own.
According to CNN, Scott’s kitchen sink would bubble up with boiling water. Scott only turned the house’s main water valve on once every few days when she needed to flush the toilet.
“It was definitely a hazard,” Kinney told CNN. “It was a rough condition she was living in and I noticed immediately.”
As Kinney left Scott’s home and headed to his his own, he couldn’t shake the thought of her having to live like that any longer. He decided, no matter the cost, he would help rebuild her home so that she could at least live comfortably without risking her life for electricity and water each day.
“I knew she needed help and I knew she wasn’t going to ask for it,” he said.
The handyman initially recruited some friends to help around the house, mowing the lawn, raking leaves and trimming back the overgrowth. When it came to electrical and plumbing issues, Kinney entreated his online neighbors for help.
“Nice old lady needs help,” Kinney titled his post.
That’s all some needed to hear. Before long the donations and were flooding in. As CNN reports, Kinney’s fundraiser saw more than $3,500 pledged in less than 24 hours. That figure has grown to more than $100,000, which has helped pay for skilled professionals, supplies, and meals for Gloria from local restaurants.
“She’s been here by herself for over 10 years, so I’m sure it’s a big change for her, but she’s warmed up to everybody,” Kinney said. “She’s so happy, she’s got all types of new friends. She’s out here making lunch for us, laughing, joking. It’s just a miracle to witness.”
From Kinney’s initial post, Gloria’s complete home makeover has transformed into a mobilization of compassionate community members who call themselves Gloria’s Gladiators. Kinney is hoping the spirit catches on, and other communities are motivated to help their own in need.
And some have.
“Looking to start a group in Franklin, MA,” wrote group member Mari Peti. “My mom is a senior and it’s been a battle and so much research to try and get her help. I am not a tradesperson-I can offer rides to the dr’s apts for elderly that I have done. Our elders are the becoming the forgotten generation. We are all getting older and staying in our homes instead of nursing homes of long ago. My mom has many high school friends that are in their homes. She is 91 and just retired 2.5 years ago. Anyone who is interested in putting together a group to help our elders in Franklin, MA please inbox me. I am very good at networking and multi tasking and I have done research for a living in the past. Ty for adding me and letting me post this. Thank you to all the people who helped Gloria and who continue to help Gloria!”
“I am Retired and have many skills I can bring to this program. Please DM me so I can volunteer even if it means starting ‘Gloria’s Gladiators’ in my local community to get things off the ground here locallyy,” commented group member Matthew Read.
“Hello Amazing Gladiators!!” wrote Denise Waggoner.”Anyone in the Seattle area? Would love to honor John, Gloria & Woburn & spread the love here too!”
One group member even recalled memories of Gloria from several decades ago.
“She reminds me of my grandmother,” Kinney said “My daughter has bonded with her, my wife has bonded with her. It doesn’t stop here. Gloria is a part of my life.”
The Gloria’s Gladiators Facebook Group is more than just a place for members to share project needs and logistical plans, it’s become a source of hope and inspiration for close to 15,000 members.
“It’s about getting the whole community to be gladiators and fighting for people who can’t fight for themselves,” Kinney said.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.