The new Glory Hall building, located near Juneau International Airport, is set to open for business next Thursday, said the organization’s executive director.
The new structure, purpose built from the ground up rather than being shoehorned into an existing structure, will smooth out logistics and allow for far better accommodations than the old location downtown, said the shelter and soup kitchen’s executive director Mariya Lovishchuk .
The new structure has small, private rooms for 43 patrons, Lovishchuk said. Having individual space alone is a huge boon for mental health, as well as allowing for easy isolation in the case of a disease outbreak, a factor that’s increased markedly in visibility for all those living communally in the last year.
“It allows people to get sleep in a dignified manner, which is important for everything,” Lovishchuk said. “It allows people to store stuff securely, which is important for stability. For people, not having space while being so close to other people can exacerbate one’s condition.”
The old structure, located downtown on Franklin Street and home to the shelter for 30 years, had room for about 40 guests in dorm-style rooms, which meant with the outbreak of the coronavirus, it could only sleep 13 safely per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations. The new structure also has room for a further 15 in overflow sleeping, onsite laundry, individual bathrooms, conference rooms and other spaces that could be converted to sleeping areas if the need arises, Lovishchuk said.
“You actually end up sleeping,” Lovishchuk said. “You can’t hear anyone snoring. No one is trying to steal your stuff. You’re not fighting for top and bottom bunk.”
The organization is currently finishing outfitting the structure for its debut next week. The new structure has roughly twice the space of the old structure, meaning that, in addition to safely housing three times as many guests, it has storage, office, and conference space that the old structure never did. This will ease difficulty of food preparation, material storage, and security for guests and staff, Lovishchuk said.
“Wayne Jensen designed this, essentially pro bono,” Lovishchuk said. “He did a remarkably great job.”
Breaking ground late last year, the pandemic stretched the timeline by several weeks due to material shortages, logistics delay and best practices for workers in the time of the coronavirus. Upgrades to the circulation system, among other mechanical changes, were also implemented. However, the building’s design was largely unaffected, forward-thinking as the design was, Lovishchuk said.
“We sort of avoided most of it,” Lovishchuk said.
The new design will hopefully improve things and help alleviate concerns from those working and living in the area, Lovishchuk said. Lovishchuk has served with the Glory Hall since about 2010, she said.
“I think people are definitely nervous. We’re nervous, too,” Lovishchuk said. “But we’re gonna do our best. And hopefully this awesome design will minimize any negative impact on the neighborhood.”
The new Glory Hall structure will soon be neighbor to the United Human Services’ Teal Street Center, which will unite multiple community organizations under a single, easily accessible roof. Some of the organizations that will have offices under that roof, located next door to the Glory Hall building, include Southeast Alaska Independent Living, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, United Way of Southeast Alaska and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“It’s gonna strengthen the way social services are delivered in Juneau,” said Sara Chapell, the campaign coordinator for the Teal Street Center. “We are really excited to be situated in the heart of this growing social services campus.”
Services that are currently widely distributed will now be located in a centralized location near both the Glory Hall and the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s housing on Teal Street.
“We’re really gratified to know people with needs are going to have easy access to services,” Chapell said. “This is a project that is going to help take care of some of those problems about access to services.”
The Glory Hall’s own organic conference rooms are also intended to serve in a similar capacity, easing access to services for guests to the building by giving visiting service providers a large, appropriate area to work.
The building’s exterior is also intended to serve, Lovishchuk said, as the Glory Hall partners with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition on a project, stabilizing and beautifying the area.
None of it could have been possible without the support of the community and the city, Lovishchuk said.
”We’re really grateful to everyone for the support,” Lovischuk said. “We’re super-grateful to the Filipino community for letting us use the Filipino Community Hall, but we’re looking forward to having our own space.”
The Glory Hall is currently looking at options for the old structure downtown, Lovishchuk said, eyeing the possibility of selling it or turning it into affordable housing. The Glory Hall would also welcome ideas from the community for the structure’s disposal, Lovishchuk said.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.