Contrasting United Way, Wheeler

February 20, 2008
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Businesses and their employees opened pockets last year to enable United Way of Central Indiana to hit a record $39 million in contributions.

The not-for-profit attributed the good news to hustle by campaign co-chairmen who offered money from their own pockets as incentives to United Way staff and volunteers to visit businesses.

Itâ??s hard to miss the contrast with Wheeler Mission Ministriesâ?? announcement Monday that it will lay off 13 staff as it shifts its youth and family programs to Shepherd Community Center.

Wheeler was staring at a $342,000 deficit in its fiscal year. Contributions were softening due to donor concerns about the weak economy and possibly uncertainty that accompanies presidential election years, Wheeler said.

Wheeler, which is returning to its roots of housing the homeless, has strained under a fivefold demand for its services in the past decade.

Is the only connection between United Wayâ??s success and Wheeler Missionâ??s struggle that their announcements came in the same week? Or is there more to it?
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  • It seems like the United Way care more about actually helping the poor, as opposed to the Wheeler Mission, who refuses to sell their multimillion dollar property in downtown, which would shore up their finances.
  • It makes you wonder why they bought the Lighthouse mission recently, and closed the building and its beds if they are swamped for bed space?
  • E.R.H.: Don't you think the homeless men that have been able to walk to that shelter for YEARS would be done a major disservice if Wheeler sold it? They know that is where they can go for a warm bed and safe shelter, it's one thing in their lives that they can count on being there for them.

    I'm really surprised that a donor hasn't stepped in this week and covered the deficit...there will be hundreds of children affected by the demise of Wheeler's programming. And, as a volunteer at Shepherd Community Center, I know they are unable to accommodate all of these kids and families as they are already at capacity.

    Someone help!
  • Wheeler Fan,

    There are probably as many homeless or more in and around Willard Park as there are downtown. Homeless folks know where they can find a warm bed, some hot food and shelter, and they'll still find it even if you move it closer to them.

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