Paying it Forward
By Savannah Haas
After years of hardship, Glenn Long finally found himself in a place in his life last year to pay it forward. Just over a year and a half ago, Long, a wheelchair user due to rheumatoid arthritis, lived in Tempe. If you could call it living at all.
“I had a roommate who was supposed to be helping me. I was expecting him to take care of things, and he wasn’t,” Long said. “He died on a Sunday morning and I thought, “now what?”
Alone and living in squalor, Long never expected Meta Goforth to knock on his door. Goforth, a friend of Long’s landlords, had been asked to check on him and was shocked at what she found.
“They asked me to take him a bag of groceries and I opened the door to some of the worst stuff I’ve ever seen. I could not walk away. I wouldn’t have left my dog like that, much less a human,” she said.
Long’s road to recovery
His landlords pressured him to go to a nursing home, but Goforth stepped up and helped him to enroll in supportive services instead.
“We got new clothes, new bedding, he just started right back over,” Goforth said. “I just had no intention of any of this, but I just couldn’t not do anything.”
Goforth and Long instantly bonded and now they are like family. Goforth purchased a mobile home for Long so he would have an accessible place to live near her and began to take care of him like a daughter would her father, all the while holding a full-time job as a NASA contractor.
After Glenn was approved for ALTHCS, he learned he could have in-home caregivers, so Goforth applied and trained at Ability360. Glenn was assigned a second Ability360 caregiver, a woman named Basilia Cuevas.
From the first day, Cuevas said she felt a connection to Long. They talked about their families, and Cuevas told Long about her and her husband’s aspirations to open a landscaping company.
As the trio journeyed through their new adventure they realized one major obstacle — transportation. Long owned a pickup truck but needed wheelchair access.
“It was really cumbersome for me to get his wheelchair in there and do the transfer to the point where it wasn’t really safe for him anymore, and we decided we would upgrade to a transport [van], just for his safety, my safety, and ease,” Goforth said.
She found a transport van around Christmastime, at which point she surprised Long with the best gift he’d ever been given.
“I never expected that. That was something I dreamt about, I never really thought I would achieve that goal. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Reveling in the gift of a lifetime, Long entertained the idea of selling his truck, but ultimately realized the greater need was in plain sight, with Cuevas and her husband.
“We started saving and saving but then something happens so we have to use the savings, so we decided to wait for some good times,” Cuevas said. “And I talked to Glenn and he said, that’s a good business. It was just talk.”
But it wasn’t just talk. Cuevas had become like another daughter to him, and he knew that this was the boost she and her husband needed for their business, which they have now started.
“He told me about the truck and I said ‘no, no no!’ and I started crying because I can’t believe it, I have a pickup!” she said.
Cuevas said her relationship with Long has enriched her life in many ways, and that she likes helping and being of service to others.
“It benefits me because I learn from him, how he strives to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. It helps me have a more positive attitude,” she said. “He made me feel good because he trusts me, and I appreciate that because that made me feel important. For me, that made me enrich my life.”
Long said having people who are willing to walk beside him in his life and spend time with him has benefitted him to the point where he finally felt like he existed.
“It’s the best feeling ever, I feel safe. I can wake up every day and not worry about what’s going to happen that day. Because I know, they’re going to be here,” Long said.
“I’ve never had that in my whole life, I can’t say enough. I feel that I’ve been rewarded.”
Savannah Haas is a junior at Arizona State University studying journalism with an emphasis in public relations and political science. She is a military child and has lived in many places, including Germany and Pennsylvania, but most recently moved to Gilbert, Arizona. Savannah loves to take group classes at the Sun Devil Fitness Center and has found a passion in daily yoga practice. You can find Savannah at any local coffee shop that plays Mumford and Sons and sells pumpkin scones