Kind Electrician Sparks Community Effort to Rebuild a 72-Year-Old Woman’s Run-Down Home

BY Louise Chambers TIMEOctober 3, 2020 PRINT

It all started with a broken light and evolved into a complete renovation of a struggling 72-year-old’s home.

When Gloria Scott called electrician John Kinney to fix a broken ceiling light at her Woburn, Massachusetts, home in August, he responded quickly but was shocked to discover that the sparking light fixture was just the tip of the iceberg, as Gloria’s entire home was in a state of disrepair.

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(Illustration – Virrage Images/Shutterstock)

There were no lights and no running water, John explained to CBS Evening News.

“I think I seen [sic] her on a Friday,” he recalled, “and it stuck with me over the weekend, and I said, ‘I got to go back there.’”

Gloria was living all alone and money was tight. The elderly woman had no internet or cell phone, along with no family to help her out.

John then returned, armed with a ladder and tools, and set to work for free. However, the scale of the task at hand necessitated backup. The electrician started a Facebook page, titled “Nice old lady needs help,” and quickly amassed a team of tradespeople wishing to help improve Gloria’s home situation and make it more livable and safe for her.

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Electrician John Kinney (R), sparked a movement to renovate Gloria’s home. (Courtesy of John Kinney/Gloria’s Gladiators)

“She had no stove,” John wrote on the page’s description, alluding to the circumstances Gloria’s house was in, “and her refrigerator was plugged into an extension cord. … her ceilings were falling apart, her kitchen sink was broken, and the place was filthy.”

“She told me that critters often got in the house,” John continued. “The outside was no better.”

The electrician already had a network of skilled professionals willing to donate their time. He simply needed to raise money for materials.

Thanks to almost 2,500 generous donors, John’s fundraiser amassed over $100,000 toward renovating Gloria’s home. In addition, the Woburn community came out in full force to lend a hand to help one of their own. They assisted in whatever way they could, some with garden tools, while the others with meals and refreshments.

By the second week of September, John’s team, “Gloria’s Gladiators,” had rewired the elderly woman’s residence, installed new plumbing, windows, walls, and ceilings to keep out intruding raccoons, and even built a brand-new porch.

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Gloria surrounded by members of the “Gloria’s Gladiators” team who helped rebuild her home. (Courtesy of John Kinney/Gloria’s Gladiators)

“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,” John told CNN. “She’s so happy, she’s got all types of new friends. … It’s just a miracle to witness.”

Photos from the epic home renovation show Gloria sitting happily on a rocking chair outside her house, watching the makeover unfold. She even habitually made lunch for the helpful crew, said John, who has grown close to the 72-year-old. “She reminds me of my grandmother,” he said.

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Gloria Scott looks on as her house is being repaired. (Courtesy of John Kinney/Gloria’s Gladiators)

As for Gloria, she is overwhelmed. “I can’t even comprehend the gratitude that I have,” she told CBS, through tears.

John is just as moved as Gloria on witnessing the generosity of so many members of their shared community, so much so that John wants to make “Gloria’s Gladiators” a nationwide venture.

“[T]here’s no words for it, you know,” he reflected. “I don’t want it to [end]. And that’s why we put a name to it—the Gloria’s Gladiators—we want to keep going with this.”

The team now identifies itself on Facebook as “a group of professional tradesmen and volunteers that can be called upon to help out any elderly person in need,” and has upward of 14,000 members. The Gladiators changed Gloria’s life for the better, and they have no intention of reining in the kindness any time soon.

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
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