In his search for a more relaxing job, Kyle Hargrave instead found himself “putting out small fires” on a daily basis.
Hargrave, who was formerly practicing family law in San Diego, moved to Alaska in March with his wife Mariana to get away from the crowds, the traffic and the stressful world of child custody and domestic violence cases.
Soon after moving to Juneau, Hargrave and his wife applied for jobs at Gastineau Guiding, and he had an eye on being a substitute teacher. Then a deputy director job came open at The Glory Hole shelter, and Hargrave found himself feeling the urge to get involved.
“As much as I wanna be selfish and not work that much this winter … it kind of fit my characteristics and my qualifications to be here,” Hargrave said.
Hargrave, 32, spent time interning at the public defender’s office in San Diego, and has years of volunteer experience, he said. Though he had visions of working as a substitute teacher or writing or simply relaxing at home this winter, he felt he would be well suited for the position and thought he could do some good in his new community.
The unexpected twists didn’t stop there, though.
Mariya Lovishchuk, the executive director of the Glory Hole, was pregnant as she was looking to fill the job and informed Hargrave that at some point soon, he would have to be the interim director. During Hargrave’s first week of work, Lovishchuk went into labor. She had her baby, and will be gone on leave until Feb. 1.
As interim director, Hargrave is getting an even more intense welcome to the job than he expected. Now, he’s taking care of behind-the-scenes tasks and “putting out small fires” every day, as he puts it.
“It’s been hard for me to wrap my head around everything because I am trying to do a lot of the administrative side of things right now because Mariya’s gone and I’m still trying to be connected with the patrons and help them out individually,” Hargrave said.
One of the main lessons he learned at the public defender’s office was to not judge people based on their appearance or their situation. It’s important, he said, to get to know people and understand their stories.
The task of doing all of it at once is only temporary, and after Lovishchuk returns, Hargrave will slide back into the job he wanted. He’ll serve mostly in a community outreach role in addition to being deputy director.
One of his main goals will be to develop a case management system where patrons of the Glory Hole can easier organize their plans including the pursuit of housing, employment or medical care. The Glory Hole already employs a program called Personal Action Towards Health &Happiness (PATHH), but Hargrave hopes to make things even easier for people to get out of the shelter and find something more permanent.
“My mission, as the community outreach coordinator here, is to try and get them on their first step to somewhere else,” Hargrave said, “whether it be employment or emergency housing or something above the emergency shelter.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.