Karl Luttig is using the story of the good Samaritan as an example of how he can be a good neighbor in Juneau. On Saturday, he officially opened a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the needy find their way out of poverty.
Luttig is a preacher who moved from Texas to Juneau in September. Like the Samaritan who helped a robbed and beaten man find a place to heal, Luttig said he wishes to help the needy in Juneau find the resources they need to get out of their situation - whether it be homelessness, alcoholism or drug abuse, medical problems or any other obstacle keeping them from becoming self-supporting members of society.
"What we offer," he said, "is a place for people to come and sit, have a cup of coffee or soup, and figure out what they need to do."
The Harbor of Hope office, at 220 Seward St. in downtown Juneau, has six computers connected to the Internet. The computers contain a database of local and national nonprofit and government organizations that offer services to those in need.
"If they have a housing problem, we can go to HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and find out what they need," Luttig said. "If they need to download forms, we can do that. If they need glasses, we can help them get them for free. There's so much out there, but people don't know how to access it, and they're intimidated."
Harbor of Hope is also a place to find comfort, Luttig said. A small room in the back of the center acts as a chapel. "They can simply come in there and sit, meditate or pray," he said.
Luttig hopes that Harbor of Hope will one day receive funding under President Bush's plan for faith-based charities. Silence, meditation and reflection are useful to everyone, he said.
"Since this country is in such heartache right now, I think the time is good for the presence of a prayer chapel. ... But I'm not pushing any teachings here," he said. "I don't care if they're Buddhist, Christian, whatever. I am here to help everyone."
Funding so far has come from donations of equipment and money, volunteer hours and Luttig's pockets. Dan Austin, general manager of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and treasurer of Harbor of Hope's board of directors, advised Luttig on how to establish a nonprofit corporation.
Austin said there is a great need in Juneau for the services Luttig is providing.
"The trouble is that we're all broken down into these little segments," Austin said, referring to Juneau's nonprofits. "We (St. Vincent's) serve homeless families, the Glory Hole serves homeless people that are willing to sober up for a night, but nobody serves the bottom of the heap."
David Sabow, loan administrator at St. Vincent's, said he would look at Harbor of Hope as a hub, sending people to other nonprofits and agencies.
"It's going to help Juneau's needy figure out what their goals are and figure out how they can reach those goals," said Sabow, who is also secretary of Harbor of Hope's board of directors.
Luttig plans to have the center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Once those doors opened, they'll never shut," he said.
If necessary, he will be in the center 16 hours a day - the time left to him after working his full-time night job, he said. And, until he gets more funds from grants or donations, his money will go to the center along with his time.
For those wishing to help, Luttig has put together a needs list that includes monetary help for bills, computer equipment and soup and coffee for clients. He also is searching for volunteers to help with social referrals or just to talk with clients.
"These people in Juneau, of which I am proud to be a part, have such good hearts and so much love." he said. "This is one way they can show they care."
Luttig can be reached at 463-5533.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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