When most people think of The Glory Hole, they think of the food and shelter that are provided there, 365 days a year, to Juneau’s poor and homeless. And it’s true. This year we will serve almost 50,000 meals and provide over 10,000 nights of shelter to Juneau’s poor and homeless. Our mission at The Glory Hole, though, is considerably larger than just providing a meal and a bed. Specifically, our mission is to provide food, shelter and compassion to Juneau’s poor and homeless. I’d like to take some time to focus on that last part, compassion.
Compassion is one of our most powerful human responses to suffering, and it is found deep within the fabric that makes up The Glory Hole. Having compassion toward another doesn’t mean you will fix that person’s problems, or even that you agree with that person. It simply means that you see another human who is suffering and you take the time to listen, to try to understand and to help in what way you can.
I have been moved by the compassion that the staff and volunteers at The Glory Hole have shown to the patrons. Every day the staff manages the inevitable chaos of an emergency shelter, all the while providing a listening ear and an understanding attitude toward the patrons. Some of the staff have experienced challenges in their own lives. Rather than making them jaded, these challenges have enabled the staff to see others with compassion and grace. We also have amazing voluteers at The Glory Hole. Most days of the week you can find a team of them cooking dinner for patrons. You’ll see lawyers and schoolchildren, bankers and members of the clergy, all giving their time (and awesome cooking skills!) to feed the hungry in our community. Usually, they stick around to talk with the patrons, continuing our millennia-old tradition of sharing food and fellowship with others.
Probably the most humbling type of compassion I have witnessed at The Glory Hole has been the compassion that the patrons have shown each other. Most of us have read about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and it seems to make sense that people who lack more basic things in their life will not be able to demonstrate more complex levels of human interaction. After witnessing incredible displays of compassion from Glory Hole patrons, I’ve been forced to adjust my views on this. The patrons of The Glory Hole, by definition, lack things like food and shelter. Yet they have shown extremely touching moments of caring for each other. Yes, the Glory Hole is a place with some level of chaos. And yes, there are many patrons that experience some great struggles in their lives. But The Glory Hole is also a place of beauty and caring and love, and it’s a place that we need in our community. The poor will be with us always, and it is our human responsibility to show them compassion.
That’s the last type of compassion I want to highlight. We at The Glory Hole continue to rely on the compassion of the Juneau community, in the form of your generous donations, to help carry out our mission. And, for decades, Juneau has shown that compassion, giving freely of time and treasure to provide food and shelter to Juneau’s poor and homeless. If you’ve given in the past to The Glory Hole, we’d like to thank you, and also to encourage you to give again, if you are able. If you’ve never given, please consider supporting us in our mission of compassion.
• Patrick Minick is a member of the Glory Hole’s board of directors. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.