Wheeler Mission’s next leader has only worked for the nonprofit since 2021, but Perry Hines’ ties to the organization stretch back decades.
During his time in the corporate world, he would frequently take food left over from his company’s suite at the Hoosier Dome to the downtown Indianapolis facility serving those experiencing poverty and homelessness.
“I hate to throw the food away, so (we) would pack it up and bring it down to Wheeler Mission. I was melding my passion for community service with my corporate duties,” said Hines, a 25-year Carmel resident. “I’ve loved the organization ever since.”
Hines plans to continue combining his business expertise with service as CEO of Wheeler Mission, a role he will assume next month. He will succeed Rick Alvis, who is stepping down after more than 30 years leading the nonprofit. Alvis will continue his involvement in an advisory capacity as president emeritus.
“Nothing is broken. Wheeler doesn’t need fixing, but what we do need is to continue to progress forward, to continue to open new doors and form new partnerships and progress with the times,” said Hines, chief development officer at Wheeler Mission. “Our mission remains the same, and our mission is clear: We’re going to keep God at the forefront of what we do.”
Wheeler Mission opened in 1893 and has grown to operate nine facilities throughout Indianapolis and Bloomington. In 2021, it provided assistance for 10,832 men, women and children; served 318,112 meals; and provided 268,493 nights of shelter. It also offers programs that focus on addiction recovery, counseling, job and life skills training, adult education, mentorship and more.
“People can go in and out of homelessness several times in their life,” Hines said. “We want to make sure we have the services here to help them through that period.”
Wheeler Mission relies on thousands of volunteers to keep its programs running. Many, like Hines, live in Hamilton County. Fishers resident Ginger Home has volunteered at several of the nonprofit’s facilities but lately has focused her efforts at its thrift store on 96th Street in her hometown.
“It’s so rewarding to see the generosity of people and to know that with Wheeler what I’m doing really makes a difference to people,” she said.
Carmel resident Robyn Brown began volunteering with Wheeler Mission in early 2022 because of the opportunity to work remotely, making lunches at home and delivering them in downtown Indianapolis. Later she began serving in the women’s center.
“The more hands-on opportunities provide a lot of reward in the sense of contributing directly to encourage others. The remote opportunities provide ways to work with friends to contribute to everyday needs of others,” Brown said. “I enjoy giving at Wheeler because I feel a lot of confidence that they are using resources well and making a big difference in the lives of the people they serve.”
Hines said Wheeler Mission offers a range of volunteer opportunities, from sorting donations to serving meals to providing barber or hairdresser services. The nonprofit will work with volunteers to match their skill set with their service work.
“My wife is a big pickleball fan,” Hines said. “She’s working with our women’s shelter right now to develop some health and nutrition classes (that incorporate) pickleball.”
Home said she remains committed to volunteering with Wheeler Mission because of the opportunity to contribute “in some small way to someone getting their life back together.”
“I’ve had some bumpy places in my life. I was fortunate to have family to support me, but the people that Wheeler takes care of by and large don’t, and Wheeler is there for them,” she said. “If I can help, it’s a good day for me.”
Learn more about Wheeler Mission and volunteer opportunities at WheelerMission.org.
Meet Perry Hines
A native of western Kentucky, Perry Hines is a first-generation college graduate, having earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. Before joining Wheeler Mission, he worked as a marketing executive. He will be the first African American to lead the nonprofit.
Hines said leaders of organizations like Wheeler Mission usually have a pastoral or social services background, but that hiring trends have evolved in recent years.
“I’m not your typical rescue mission CEO, although the landscape is changing,” he said. “What we’ve seen the last five to 10 years is more folks with a business background or a different kind of background.”
Hines has served on several boards, including the Indianapolis Urban League, Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana Youth Institute, Madame Walker Theatre Center, Boy Scouts of America Crossroads Council and others. Currently, he is a board member for the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy, Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis and Horace Mann Educators Corp.
Hines and his wife, Lisa, have two sons. He enjoys mentoring inner-city youth, traveling and spending time with his grandchildren.