A December night on Juneau’s streets will almost certainly be a cold one, but for those battling homelessness a warm blanket could soon be on its way.
Logan Henkins, 32, battled an addiction that landed him in the hospital three months ago. He found himself without a home but sought shelter at the Glory Hole, Juneau’s homeless shelter and soup kitchen.
Now, after being taken of by others, he wants to pay it forward. He has created an exchange program that supplies blankets to others like him on the street.
“I can’t get my friends off the streets,” Henkins, born and raised in Juneau, said near a pile of donated goods inside the South Franklin shelter. “This is an opportunity to go out and give them food and blankets and make warmth and food accessible all the time.”
With permission from Glory Hole Director Mariya Lovishchuk, Henkins started a blanket exchange program one month ago. Every night, Henkins heads out with other Glory Hole volunteers to pass out clean blankets and sack meals. When blankets are returned, they get a clean blanket and a sack lunch for the road.
Henkins said his goal is to deliver a blanket and meal to those normally turned away at the Glory Hole because of alcohol. The Glory Hole has a no-alcohol policy that prohibits anyone with 0.10 percent alcohol on his or her breath from spending the night there.
His message to those who feel disconnected from the Glory Hole: “We still love you. You’re loved. Be full and warm,” Henkins said.
Lovishchuk said the Glory Hole relies on patrons like Henkins who don’t just accept help, but try to give back, too. Patrons often come to her with volunteering ideas, but delivering meals with blankets is a first, Lovishchuk said.
“My philosophy is that I should do what I can to help, or at the very minimum try to stay out of their way,” Lovishchuk said. “In Logan’s case, he is pretty exceptional with his volunteer efforts. It really does seem to be his primary motivation in life to help other people. That’s really a unique thing, not just among people who are experiencing homelessness, but really among all people.”
Henkins’ said he spends his days reaching out to hotels or searching the streets for discarded blankets he can clean and distribute. Fellow Glory Hole patron Joshua Smith said if he misses mealtime, he searches the streets for a blanket to use in the exchange program. When friends on the street ask him how he got the meal, he tells them find a blanket and they’ll see.
“It’s become my passion to do something useful,” Smith said.
Sunday night, Smith collected four blankets. Combined with other returned blankets, Henkins had six blankets washed and ready to hand out Monday night to the usual spots where he knows friends too inebriated for the Glory Hole tend to gather.
“(Sunday night,) I got a big hug from a lady friend that was really drunk and crying when I wrapped two fleece blankets around her and gave her a bag lunch. That’s the blessing,” Henkins said. “It means a lot to be able to give my friends food. That’s beautiful.”
Henkins said the blanket exchange program is in need of more donations from the community to expand its reach. Clean and dirty blankets are accepted at the Glory Hole, 247 S. Franklin St. For more information, call the Glory Hole at 586-4159.
• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.