LEADING QUESTIONS: Wheeler CEO focuses, plans more beds

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses and civic leaders to talk shop about their latest challenges and the habits that lead to success.

Rick Alvis, 58, recently celebrated his 20th year at the helm of Wheeler Mission Ministries Inc., the local nondenominational Christian social-services organization. In the video below, the Wheeler president and CEO describes the tumult that awaited him when he joined the organization in 1990 and how the resulting strategy of tightly defining the group’s mission has helped the agency weather a more recent crisis.

Although perhaps best known for its men’s mission at 245 N. Delaware St., Wheeler operates eight facilities across central and southern Indiana serving homeless and needy men, women and children. In addition to providing daily shelter and meals for the homeless, Wheeler also offers longer-term housing for those transitioning to employment and stable housing, as well as medical care and addiction-recovery programs.

Its main challenge during cold-weather months, however, is coordinating the Winter Contingency Program for the city for Indianapolis, which guarantees housing and meals for the homeless once all other shelters in the city are filled to capacity. In addition to long-term residents, Wheeler facilities house as many as 400 to 500 people per night during winter months.

Men seeking shelter for a single night typically are housed at the Wheeler Mission Lighthouse Center at 520 E. Market St., which has 124 beds and room for another 46 people to sleep on the floor.

Wheeler shelter 15col The Wheeler Mission Lighthouse Center at 520 E. Market St. is slated for a $1.5 million expansion and renovation. (IBJ Photo/ Mason King)

Now Wheeler is planning to expand the two-story Center by 5,000 square feet, building a two story-addition to the north side of the facility and renovating some of the existing building. The cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million, which Wheeler hopes to raise in an upcoming capital campaign.

The expansion would increase the number of beds to 200. “We’re trying to avoid putting people on the floor,” Alvis said.

Work likely would begin in spring 2012, Alvis said, after the campaign was well under way. Wheeler is eyeing several projects for the fundraising effort, including building a new multipurpose building and more lodges at its Camp Hunt facility for addiction recovery programs near Bloomington.

“We’re doing a directional study right now to find out how much we can raise,” Alvis said.

In 2008, Wheeler embarked on a fundraising program that had a secondary goal of creating a reserves fund much like an endowment. In the following video, Alvis discusses the fate of that initiative, as well as several other issues related to the group and local homeless population.


  • God Bless
    God Bless Rick Alvis and Wheeler Mission. Keep up the great work!!
  • Absolutely correct
    Add more beds for the homeless and you'll attract more homeless to the area. Someone needs to work on addressing the homeless who break into vacant buildings sometimes starting fires and wrecking the buildings, endangering neighbors, and severely damaging neighborhoods.

    With the county full of low-demand, low-value neighborhoods, and struggling to raise enough revenue to provide basic services, it makes no sense to continue to provide homeless shelters in places where property values and taxes could otherwise be rising.
  • There are much better locations.
    He needs to be focusing on putting more beds outside of downtown. The neighborhood he is expanding his operation in is trying hard to become a destination area. It is really hard to create the positive movement needed when there is a large homeless and mentally ill population milling about.

    Homelessness is a problem, it needs a solution, but it needs more thought.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Yes sir keep cashing those 300K a year checks direct to IMS, while millions disappear from the teams like Rahal's. Guess there wasn't enough ka- ching going around to keep Sarah Fisher in business without their "merger". LOL._____.Meanwhile back in Realville the series with the "best racing in the world" drew what appeared to be about 5000 live spectators ( and probably 1500 of those Target "freebies", and was beaten in the ratings by a series that reportedly consists of "parades" and aired while most people are still sleeping. That will generate those big ka-chings for sure. :-). But, hey, as long as the Speedway gets the cash who gives a damn about the teams?

  2. Welcome to PETERSON LOAN AGENCY Company (A Personalized Service for All Your Financial Needs) We, Liberal Investment Company Providers offers loan at a very low interest rate of 2%, we offer Personal loans, Debt Consolidation Loan, Venture Capital, Business Loan, Educational Loan, Home Loan, and Loan for any reason and urgent needs!. with a maximum duration of 30 years. Have you been turned down by your bank? Do you have bad credit? Do you have unpaid bills? Are you in debt? Do you need to set up a business? Worry no more as we are here to offer you a low interest loan. Our loan ranges from $5,000-USD (Five Thousand US dollars) to $50, 000,000.00.(Fifty Million US dollars). We also lend in USA DOLLARS EURO and POUNDS ! Fill in this form and forward it to our email: PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM 1. Your Full names:_______ 2. Contact address:_______ 3. Country Of Residence:______ 4. Loan Amount Required:________ 5. Duration:_____ 6. Gender:_____ 7. Occupation:________ 8. Monthly Income:_______ 9. Date Of Birth:________ 10.Telephone Number:________ 11. Purpose of loan:_________ Yours In Service, MR PERRY, PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM

  3. If I could actually get the prices...I would do this on my own. We need laws that force provides to publish the costs they will charge. Everyone else gives you the price in advance...except hospitals.

  4. I was under the impression that fencing is not allowed on a front yard and that on a corner, both sides are considered "front" yards, therefore can't be fenced without a variance. Also impedes the visibility for drivers at the intersection. Am I understanding this correctly? Might be why a fence was not included in the plans and a request for a variance will have to be made?.

  5. I was a big fan of Cowards and Carrots, which I got a chance to see at the show. It's currently on Kickstarter, but the designer also put out What's He Building in There last year, which got a fair amount of buzz.