Four humpback whales dive in front of a Allen Marine whale watching boat in August 2015. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Four humpback whales dive in front of a Allen Marine whale watching boat in August 2015. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Fundraising season: Whale watch for a good cause, fill an empty bowl, or support Polaris House’s inaugural fundraiser

It may be construction and it may be tourist season, but it’s also fundraising season. Lots of events are popping up around town in support of good causes.

There are four separate whale-watching tour fundraisers scheduled so far for this month, hosted by Juneau Crime Line/Crime Stoppers, the Juneau Audubon Society, United Way of Southeast Alaska and Hearthside Books. Polaris House is also hosting a dinner as part of first fundraiser. And the Glory Hole homeless shelter downtown is hosting its annual “Empty Bowls” fundraiser, their biggest fundraiser of the year.

Crime Line

Money raised from the Crime Line whale-watching cruise goes toward supporting the Juneau Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program and toward rewards for tipsters who aid police in their investigations. Crime Line board member Robin Paul explained contributing to the crime tip line organization ultimately helps the community at large.

“The Juneau Crime Line/Crime Stoppers mission is to support local law enforcement efforts to keep Juneau a safe community,” Paul said.

Paul said monetary rewards can vary for reporting people driving under the influence, to reporting graffiti and giving tips on drug dealers. The rewards for reporting drunk drivers double during the holidays.

“The rewards vary, but we think it gets people’s attention,” Paul said. “Some people do not want the awards; they are just concerned citizens.”

Juneau School Resource Officer John Cryderman added that the Crime Line offers people who may feel like they are in a tough situation a way to anonymously report on someone they may know.

“Sometimes people worry about retribution,” Cryderman said. “This is an avenue that will not place a strain on relationships.”

The Crime Line whale-watching cruise is set for 5:15 p.m. Friday, May 18. Tickets are $65 and may be purchased at

Polaris House

Bruce Van Dusen, Executive Director at Polaris House, explained the reason for the fundraiser is simply due to the success of the program and the need to move to a bigger space to accomodate its members. Van Dusen said Polaris House members include those suffering mental illness and disabilities. The goal is to help the members acclimate to everyday life through learning work skills and building relationships, according to the Polaris House website. Because more and more people have taken part in the program, they need more space to accommodate the work environment.

“For a while we had eight to 10 members and it was not very busy at all,” Van Dusen said. “But when we look back to December going forward, we are averaging 20 members a day.”

The goal is to raise $5,000, which Van Dusen said he believes is a good starting point and gives the organization some money to build on so it can look at building opportunities in the community.

“We’re using the money (we raise) to help remodel the space we are trying to acquire, even though we don’t know what that space will be,” Van Dusen said. “We have looked at properties, and we know we will need money to remodel.”

That is where the fundraiser comes in. Starting at 6 p.m. and going until 10 p.m. Friday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, Polaris House will have host a a dinner with a a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and live entertainment. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for children and may be purchased at Polaris House or at the door.

Darrell Wilkerson, a member representative for Polaris House, said the organization has helped him in many ways.

“It’s given me the opportunity to feel like I am giving back rather than being a taker,” Wilkerson said. “It has also made me feel better about myself.”

Information for other events:

United Way of Southeast Alaska is hosting “Cruise for a Cause” at 5:15 p.m. today at Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor. Tickets are $100 and are available at The event will include dinner and Brian Weed, of Juneau’s Hidden History and “Alaska Treasure Hunters,” will be the guest speaker.

The Juneau Audubon Society is also holding a whale-watching event, the “2018 Berners Bay Cruise,” at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 12. Tickets cost $70 for adults, $40 for students and $25 for children under 12 and are available at Hearthside Books.

Hearthside Books is also hosting its own whale-watching event, “Authors at Sea 2018” from 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 25 on Allen Marine Catamaran. Tickets are $65 and are available at both the downtown and Nugget Mall Hearthside Books locations. Six authors will take part in the event.

The Glory Hole Emergency Homeless Shelter is holding its “Empty Bowls” event at Centennial Hall from 5-7 p.m. Sunday, May 6. Tickets are $40 for adults, $15 for children and are available at Hearthside Books and Admission includes locally-prepared soups, artisan bread, fresh-baked cookies and a take-home handcrafted bowl.

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

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