For nearly nine years, I served this community on the Juneau Assembly, including time as mayor. Before that I taught at Juneau-Douglas High School. Both experiences convinced me that support of some positions can produce a “win/win” for all sides — or at least something very close to it. As a member of a Congregation that originally was part of the faith core that started the Glory Hall, we are often reminded that faith in action entails service to others. Service can take different forms. Some donate time and talents — some donate financially to important causes.
When asked to help fundraising to build a new homeless shelter, I knew this was a cause I could support. I am most proud to serve on this fundraising committee with two of Juneau’s most dedicated, though unelected, public servants — Bruce Denton and Laraine Derr.
We believe that moving the Glory Hall from its present location on South Franklin Street can be a true “win/win” — better for Glory Hall patrons and better for the community at large that faithfully supports Juneau’s emergency shelter, soup kitchen, and care center.
• The current Glory Hall space is maxed out. Every square inch is used 24/7 from the boiler room to the roof-top gardens.
• The current Glory Hall does not have adequate space for support facilities to fully address employment opportunities, mental health issues, and counseling to help lift people out of homelessness.
• The current Glory Hall requires moving persons with mobility challenges from the main gathering place and dining area on the first floor to the sleeping facilities on the upper floors.
• The current Glory Hall bathrooms are inadequate in accessibility and number.
• For any Glory Hall clients with addiction problems, the current Glory Hall’s proximity to drugs and alcohol and illicit dealers makes the present location ill-suited to recovery.
The proposed site for relocation is removed from downtown and adjacent to both the sobering center and homeless social worker navigator’s offices. This presents a great opportunity to begin afresh in an area and a building designed for and conducive to addressing the needs of the clients and the root causes of homelessness. Patrons of the current Glory Hall will be separated in distance and image from some of the habitual criminals who often congregate in Juneau’s downtown core. Law enforcement can focus more fully on that challenge.
We must meet a Sept. 1 deadline to place a $300,000 payment on the proposed property. We are one-third of the way there with one month to go. Please consider extending a helping hand. We have received a proposed $50,000 grant and a $12,500 grant contingent on receiving matching funds. No donation is too big or too small. Your contribution to the Glory Hall building project can be made out to: Juneau Community Foundation, 350 Franklin Street, Suite 4, Juneau, Alaska 99801 (please note Glory Hall Building Project) or online you can donate with pay pal or a credit card at www.juneaucf.org.
• Ken Koelsch was the mayor of Juneau from March 2016 to October 2018.