My Turn: $51 from 384 Juneauites would re-open Glory Hole

Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2003

The folks at The Glory Hole are dreading the return of Juneau's "real" fall weather. So far, Juneau has been blessed with a beautiful October. But what is to come?

We are very close to reopening our doors. We've raised enough money to open for two of the remaining 2 1/2 months of 2003. But we don't want to reopen now and close again in December, when the weather is sure to be worse.

When this crisis first came to light, many good citizens in Juneau recognized the value of providing a warm, dry and safe place for Juneau's homeless people and came forth with $10,000 to support our services. This week, the City and Borough of Juneau appropriated $10,000 with the understanding that The Glory Hole would raise an additional $10,000 in matching funds.

Look at it this way: We need to raise $17,000 to end our year in the black. We are committed to reopening Nov. 1. That's $1,214 a day for the remaining 14 days of October. Only $51 an hour! Can you and 383 other good Juneauites contribute $51 to reopen The Glory Hole in October?

When you contribute, rest assured that your funds will be spent wisely on needed services for the homeless. The Glory Hole's budget is "bare-bones," with no fat to cut. We serve 200 meals a day. We rely on volunteers to cook a lot of those and we shop mainly at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. We have 38 beds for people needing emergency shelter. We pay staff minimum wage to make sure our facility is safe 24 hours a day for all our patrons. It's much like running a family of 38 with 120 regular dinner guests on a family budget of only $160,000.

Who benefits from The Glory Hole's services? People who need them. We don't ask questions of hungry people, we just feed them. Many of our patrons have brain disorders, are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol (and are not welcome at The Glory Hole when suffering the affects of these addictions), are physically disabled, or are otherwise challenged. Many of them are folks who are just down on their luck at this period in their lives and are waiting for the tide to turn. Many of them have a place to live but have no extra funds with which to buy food. Many are camping in the woods, nervously awaiting the first snow.

Historically, a good portion of The Glory Hole's revenue arrives at the end of the year, during the holiday season. Juneauites have remembered the less fortunate of our town when it comes time to share a Thanksgiving feast with family members and friends. We have remembered how cold it can be without warm winter clothes and how lonely Christmas can be without a gift or two to open. We have remembered the homeless when seeing members of our community huddled at the bus stop or gathered in vacant storefront doorways. The Glory Hole is always grateful for the wealth of contributions received in November and December. We just need them a little earlier this year.

As we go into the holiday season, we will be preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes for hungry people who want to have a holiday meal at home with their families. We would like each box to be filled with a turkey, stuffing, vegetables, a pie, and all the other things that come to mind this time of year. We would like everyone we see to have warm coats, hats, gloves and boots to meet the weather. And we would like to be able to pay our bills and remain open without fear of closure for the rest of the year.

What have you done to help the homeless recently? Please help us to raise the funds required to match CBJ's gift of $10,000 by contributing whatever you can as soon as you can. For every $1,214 raised, we can reopen one day earlier than Nov. 1. Just $51 buys an hour at The Glory Hole in October. It's one of the best ways we can think of to spend $51. We hope you agree.

• Jetta Whittaker is the executive director of The Glory Hole. Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to The Glory Hole at P.O. Box 21997, Juneau, AK, 99802, or dropped off at 247 S. Franklin St. The Glory Hole is a United Way agency.

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