Fixing Up Hope in a New Jersey Neighborhood

A hopeful neighborhood is defined as one where people use their individual gifts to enrich each other’s lives and restore community. It’s a place where inclusion and giving are abundant. Anne Glancey experienced a taste of this abundance a few summers ago when her neighbors in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, rallied together in an act of kindness.

Glancey, a 70-something retired teacher, lived a socially-isolated life in the house where she was raised. Most of the neighbors knew little about her until Adam and Kristin Polhemus moved next door. As the months and years went by, the Polhemus’ got to know Glancey well by stopping by daily.

“Until my wife and I moved in, no neighbors had a conversation with her,” Adam told PEOPLE. “She had no relations with anyone in the neighborhood.” 

Adam and Kristin formed a close enough friendship with Glancey that they offered to assist with some much-needed repairs to the exterior of the house. Glancey always declined, until one day when she received a notice from the city: she faced $3,000 per day in fines for code violations. 

Glancey didn’t know what to do, but the Polhemus family acted in true Hopeful Neighborhood fashion. They joined with 25 neighbors, friends, and members of their church to landscape; donate a dilapidated car on the property; and scrape, prime, and paint the house. They completed about $10,000-$15,000 worth of work—all for free. (Glancey paid them in homemade carrot cake and orange juice.)

After seeing her code violations erased and witnessing the generosity of so many in her community, Glancey became an integral part of her neighborhood. She now interacts with many more of her neighbors. The Polhemus family did more than just use their gifts to fix up her house; they enriched her life and social circle.

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know your neighbors? If Anne Glancey was your neighbor, what gifts could you use to help fix up her property? Do you know of any ways to use those gifts in your own neighborhood? 

(Information for this blog taken from “New Jersey Couple’s Unexpected Kindness Changes Next-Door Neighbor’s Life and Home” by Diane Herbst in the September 6, 2016 issue of PEOPLE.com.)

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