Through diligence and extra effort, the Glory Hole's kitchen was back open and running less than 24 hours after being closed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The homeless shelter's executive director, Mariya Lovishchuk, said it was an extremely busy night as the staff plus concerned clientele cleaned out the entire kitchen and purchased plastic food containers for the entire stock. An exterminator also arrived in the midst of this.
"It was really awesome to see everyone work like we did," she said. "I almost think it helped a little because we got to take a break from serving and really concentrate on cleaning everything."
Environmental health officer Jason Wiard put the official notice of closure up at 1 p.m. Wednesday after his inspection revealed imminent health hazards from an excess of rodent infestations. He re-inspected the kitchen at 7 a.m. Thursday and said he was extremely pleased to take the notice down right away.
"They had entire staff and volunteers basically gut out the whole entire kitchen as well as the day room, and it looks like a whole new place. I was very very impressed," he said, adding, "All this food now is in rodent-protected containers. They cleaned out everything."
Lovishchuk said work continued nonstop from the time the notice was put up until the entire job was done. The work came not only from staffers but also several of the patrons who lent a hand to the shelter that's become a large part of their lives.
Fred Shewey, Glory Hole staff member, said while most of the work was done and people left around 9 p.m., some stayed as late as 1 a.m. to make sure the place would be ready for the inspection.
"I think people were really afraid they were going to lose this," Lovishchuk said.
Dennis Wharton, who receives services from the shelter, agreed. He said he's very appreciative of the Glory Hole and was glad to see everyone pull together to fix the problem.
Lovishchuk noted the efforts of the staff and clients who volunteered, both in the inspection cleaning and everyday work.
"That's why it's sad when you hear these guys are lazy. It's just not true," she said.
Lovishchuk said the shelter will be inspected daily for a while and she's determined to pass every check. She said she's working through a new control plan with the exterminator and will make sure all the food stays in the containers while any rodents stay out.
She said the hardest part about the experience was the cost. She estimated the shelter spent around $500 on the new containers and cleanup effort. She said with additional costs associated with the exterminator, extra hours and resources, this incident could end up costing the shelter $2,000 overall.
She said this setback came at a bad time, as donations are down 30 percent from last year, and many people wait until the holidays to donate. She said it can be "unnerving" to wait that long for help and added that donations are always welcome.
Contact Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or email@example.com.