Glory Hole to reopen for daytime hours

Homeless shelter raises $10,000 to cover budget gap that forced lunchtime closure

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2003

Before the Glory Hole began closing during its mid-day hours at the beginning of October, Delores Huber came to the downtown homeless shelter every day for lunch.

So when she offered a prayer before Thursday's noon meal, which marked the official reopening of the Glory Hole during its daytime hours, she made it a prayer of thanks.

"Thank you, Lord, for the good meal we're having, thanks for the Glory Hole being open, and thank you for everything," Huber said, before digging into a plate of sloppy joes and potato and pasta salads.

The Glory Hole has reached the $10,000 mark in its fund-raising campaign, matching a $10,000 appropriation to the shelter from the city on Oct. 14. But the fund-raising hasn't ended yet, said Jetta Whittaker, the shelter's executive director.

"I feel comfortable we won't have to shut down again, but we will have a very much reduced Christmas program," she said.

The Glory Hole is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and its 38-bed dormitory is open 24 hours a day.

For the first week in October, the shelter closed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Following the announcement of the closure, donations from the community came pouring in, Whittaker said.

"By and large they are from individuals," she said. "We've had checks for as little as $20 to several of more than $1,000. And several people sent PFD checks for $1,107 - the whole thing."

The shelter is looking forward to next year with "reserved optimism," said Larry Rorem, pastor of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church and president of the Glory Hole board of directors.

"We're looking at a very bare-bones budget for the coming year," Rorem said. "... We still have the ongoing needs of staying open and meeting the needs of the community in the best possible way. Being open all the time is the best possible way.

"My concern is that the Glory Hole may be a place of last resort and it needs to be a place where we treat people with the utmost of dignity and respect. A lot of people come to the Glory Hole with a lot of pain for a multitude of reasons."

Board members and staff of the shelter are anxious about meeting the needs of the poor during the upcoming holiday season, they said.

Because turkeys for the shelter's Thanksgiving food basket program were not ordered until this month, the cost of the program has significantly increased this year, Whittaker said. Also, the Juneau Yacht Club, which normally organizes and pays for a Christmas food basket program, has decided not to prepare the baskets this year.

"That's 350 families that will be going without," Whittaker said. "It's just going to be a real loss for the community."

Glory Hole officials also are concerned that its budget for the rest of the year depends on a $7,000 grant it may not receive in mid-November.

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