Some people wouldn’t say no to a free party. Amy and Jeff Gleaton did. When the couple heard that they would get a block party for winning The Spokesman-Review Valley area Good Neighbor contest, they said they’d rather have the money used for a better cause – they would like it donated to help the victims of hurricane Katrina.
“The people in Louisiana need a lot, any penny that we could possibly give them,” said Jeff Gleaton.
Amy Gleaton agreed, adding that the family had all the basic necessities that those affected by the hurricane were lacking and it would be better to help them rather than splurge on a party.
“I would rather do something for somebody else than have someone do something for me,” Amy Gleaton said.
The Gleatons’ selflessness is one of the reasons their neighbor Sandy Westrope nominated them for the annual award; in the contest, residents choose those who they feel really give definition to the phrase “good neighbor.”
The Gleatons live in a neat, white house on the corner of Wellesley Avenue and Lillian Road and have lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years. Westrope, who lives next door, calls them her “neighborhood angels.”
“It just comes all natural for them, they’re just good people, not asking for anything in return,” Westrope said. “I don’t have to ask for help, it’s just done.”
When Westrope was so ill last year that she could barely drive or do anything, the Gleatons saw her through that rough patch. When she travels and needs someone to check on her pets, they gladly take on the job. Sometimes they just drop in to say hello and give a little moral support, she said.
“I feel so secure knowing that they are there and I can call them anytime,” said Westrope in her letter nominating the couple for the award.
Amy Gleaton said she and Westrope became closer about two years ago after Westrope’s husband died.
When Westrope became sick, her daughter called Amy Gleaton from Chicago and asked her to help.
“She was in really bad shape,” Amy Gleaton said. “I just loaded her up in the car and took her to the emergency room and stayed with her.”
Gleaton said if Westrope needs someone to accompany her somewhere, she’ll go with her. They help take care of her house when she is away and water her flowers.
Westrope said Jeff Gleaton helped her put a new battery in her car, and in the winter, he clears her driveway. The couple even offered to paint her home.
“I couldn’t go and visit my children like I do if it wasn’t for (Amy) because I’d have to put my dogs in a kennel,” Westrope said.
But the Gleatons don’t view their actions as extraordinary – they say they want to treat others in the same way as they would like to be treated.
Good neighbors hold together and don’t let things come between them, Jeff Gleaton said.
“Don’t hold any grudges because it doesn’t do you any good,” he said.
While the Gleatons both work all day – Jeff as a service manager for a company that sells trucks and Amy for the East Valley School District – they said they still believe it is important for neighbors to find time to look out for each other.
“I really like this neighborhood,” Amy Gleaton said, adding that the children all go to the same school, which creates a real sense of community.
The couple have been married for 31 years and have a 12-year-old son. They share their four-bedroom home with three cats and a dog.