February 15, 2023

New Wheeler Mission CEO says more volunteers are needed


Incoming Wheeler Mission CEO Perry Hines will oversee the ministry that provides shelter, food, and other resources in central and south central Indiana. - Provided by Wheeler Mission

Incoming Wheeler Mission CEO Perry Hines will oversee the ministry that provides shelter, food, and other resources in central and south central Indiana.

Provided by Wheeler Mission

Indianapolis’ non-denominational Christian facility for men experiencing homelessness, poverty and other hardships has a new leader. Incoming Wheeler Mission CEO Perry Hines will oversee the ministry that provides shelter, food, and other resources in central and south-central Indiana. WFYI reporter Terri Dee talks with Hines about the important role of volunteers and the future of the nonprofit’s mission.

WFYI Reporter Terri Dee: What or who brought you to your work at the Wheeler Mission?

Perry Hines: That's an interesting question because my career trajectory has not been a straight line. It has been zigs and zags and flips and turns.

So, what really helped me to Wheeler, I say, is pretty serendipitous.I was in a corporate position for about 20 years and decided to start my own consulting firm about 15 years ago. In that work I was doing work for nonprofit and for-profit clients, and I've been active in the community and volunteering for a lot of different organizations and boards. Wheeler is just always at the forefront of everything here in Indianapolis. You can't not know about Wheeler because it has very high brand awareness here.I've always admired Wheeler and have been a contributor to Wheeler.

There was an opportunity that opened up when a 28-year veteran and legend, a guy named Steve Kerr announced his retirement and they were looking for his replacement. So, I got a call. I applied for the position of chief development officer, and I got that. I was in that role for about a year, and then the CEO announced that he was retiring after 32 years and so the rest is history.

Dee: What do you see as Wheeler Mission’s greatest need? What is the direction of Wheeler Mission?

Hines: Like any nonprofit, our mission thrives on the service of volunteers. We could not do what we do without the thousands of volunteers that we have each and every year. We had almost 8,000 volunteers last year for about 30,000 volunteer hours. Wheeler always needs volunteers, we have so many opportunities available in all of our areas.

Secondly, like any nonprofit, we need resources, we need funds to help us. What we do each and every day is serve the most vulnerable people in our society; those individuals experiencing homelessness. On any given night we are housing, clothing, and feeding anywhere from 700 or 800 men, women and children every single night, 365 days a year. There is no vacation for the homeless. We always need financial resources.

But most of all, because we are a faith-based organization founded on Christian principles, we need prayers. We always need prayers of individuals in the community to do what we do.

Dee: Let's expand on your statements concerning volunteers. Someone may be asking themselves, "what can I do that could be of help to Wheeler Mission?"  What types of volunteers are needed and in what areas?

Hines: We have volunteers that help with the three meals a day that we serve to the hundreds of men, women, and children that we service. We have a thrift store, and they can help sort clothing and items. We have nurses, we have doctors, we have beauticians, we have a lot of people with specialized skills who volunteer. Of course, we have professionals who help with case counseling. A good portion of the people that we serve, are dual diagnosed with either a mental illness or drug addiction.

Dee: Wheeler has reached a milestone. Tell us about that.

Hines: Yes. Wheeler is getting ready to celebrate 130 years in this community. We need the support and the help of the community to be around for another 130 years because there are forces and events out there that can shake the roots and the foundation of an organization like we're in. We just continue to ask for the prayers and support and the help of everyone in the community.

Dee: Thank you for speaking with me today, Perry.

Hines: Thank you, Terri.

Contact WFYI All Things Considered newscaster and reporter Terri Dee at tdee@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @terrideeisme.

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