Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File                                People mill outside the Glory Hall during meal distribution on June 25. The new Juneau Cares Program helps provide meals prepared by a local business to people in need.

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File People mill outside the Glory Hall during meal distribution on June 25. The new Juneau Cares Program helps provide meals prepared by a local business to people in need.

Glory Hall eyes move forward as new food program starts up

The Glory Hall hopes to begin site prep on the new campus within months.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that some of the functions of the warming shelter would be moved to the Glory Hall. This was incorrect, and the article has been updated to reflect this. The Empire regrets the error.

As the weather starts shifting for the fouler, the Glory Hall is striving to lock down its proposed new location off Teal Street near the airport and begin work.

“There’s a lot of economic uncertainty,” said Mariya Lovishchuk, executive director of the Glory Hall. “I think the Assembly is trying to be as careful as they can.”

The proposal, for $2.3 million to support the construction of the new social services campus, replacing the current Glory Hall in its location downtown, was voted forward by the City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee on Wednesday evening, to be read before the Assembly in a meeting later in September.

“We have the land,” Lovishchuk said. “We’re gonna apply for the building permit either next week or very early the week after.”

Their haste is predicated on Alaska’s largest limiting factor in construction — the winter.

[RALLY funding gets a rain check]

“We wanted to start building in May, June, July. We would have been much further along,” Lovishchuk said. “The longer we wait, the worse it is. And the longer it drags on, the more expensive it is.”

In the meantime, Lovishchuk said, the Glory Hall is looking to divest its daytime functions — laundry, showers and social services — to another building downtown.“The Glory Hall is going to move its day operations,” Lovishchuk said. “We’ll move everything we do on the first and second floor. We’re gonna keep the bunks up on the third floor. If we don’t do that, it’ll overload the system.”

The future of the warming shelter will be discussed in a public meeting hosted by the City and Borough of Juneau on Sept. 9 on Zoom.

Square peg in a square hole

One of the other efforts related to the Glory Hall’s clients, among others, began bearing fruit on Wednesday. The Juneau Cares Program, authored by Larry Cotter and shepherded by United Way of Southeast Alaska, began operations, bringing 280 meals to clients at the Glory Hall, AWARE and the warming shelter at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. The program is funded by the food budgets from participating shelters and organizations, as well as federal coronavirus relief funding.

“It’s wonderful. We could not be more grateful,” Lovishchuk said. “It takes so much of a load off. We are so grateful.”

The meals are being made by the Breeze In at Lemon Creek. With their resources and 24-hour kitchen, said head chef David Moorehead, the Breeze In is an optimal choice.

“Breeze In has been giving back to the community for as long as I can remember. I’ve been heading up the kitchens here for the last 10 years,” Moorehead said in a phone interview. “It’s a natural fit that we were willing and able to take on the responsibility. I’m all about creating good food for people to eat.”

Moorehead and the Breeze In have participated in the Glory Hall’s annual Empty Bowls fundraiser and supported other food-insecurity awareness events. The situation for Juneau residents experiencing homelessness is as bleak as he’s ever seen it in decades of living in Juneau, Moorehead said.

“It’s been part of giving back, too. I’ve been a cook and then a chef my entire life. We see a need and we fill out. We create quality food at a value price,” Moorehead said. “We’re not in the medical community, but we do something just as important. In that regard, what we’re doing with the Glory Hall is a natural fit.”

Personnel from the Glory Hall collect the food before distributing it to the organizations its intended for. It lets the Glory Hall staff focus on their core mission while keeping the locally owned and operated Breeze In operating, Moorehead said.

“September, October, November are gonna be tough enough as it is. We’re going to see discretionary income drying up, I think. I hope not, but I think so,” Moorehead said. “It keeps my staff busy. It keeps them in paycheck. We’re locally owned and operated. We’re here year round. We’re not just here for the summer tourists.”

It takes Moorehead, his sous-chef and two or three other personnel about five hours to prepare the food for the day, Moorehead said. It’s a logistical strain that the Breeze-In is ready to take up, but might not be easy for every restaurant. While they’ve begun serving meals, other restaurants will likely come online as the program hits its stride.

“Nothing comes to Juneau in a timely manner. If you don’t plan, nothing comes together. It’s not easily done. And there’s not a lot of places in a position to do it,” Moorehead. “I am, and I’m happy to give back to the community. It just feels like the right fit. I think that it’s important for us all to pull together. This is a village, and it’s up to us to be a part of it.”

Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com

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