Indianapolis – The Indianapolis Colts and the Irsay family have donated $100,000 to Wheeler Mission to help expand its Center for Women & Children, the city's leader for emergency shelter and long-term programs for homeless women and women with children.
The $100,000 Irsay gift is supporting Wheeler's Building for Change Campaign, an effort to raise $1.25 million over 125 days to go toward a larger campaign that will expand the center on the city's near eastside. This year marks the 125th anniversary of Wheeler's work in Indianapolis.
A new two-story building will be built on the northwest corner of E. Michigan St. and N. Lasalle St. immediately next to Wheeler's existing building. The new center will feature:
• 164 new beds for women and children, including 30 apartments for moms with kids, taking bed capacity from 93 to 257;
• A redesigned childcare facility for kids to grow and thrive;
• Redesigned and expanded dining areas to promote a more family-friendly setting;
• Expanded space for medical and mental health clinics;
• A new secure, indoor play space for families to use together;
• Expanded bathroom & laundry facilities;
• An expanded education center;
• More than doubled capacity for counseling, job training, addiction recovery and other services; and
• Additional staff which will increase our staff-to-guest ratio creating a much more secure environment for women and women with children.
"For 125 years, Wheeler selflessly has served the needs of this community and our friends and neighbors who are experiencing homelessness," said Kalen Jackson, Colts vice chair and owner. "We hope this gift will inspire other donors, businesses and organizations to join the Colts in expanding this center so that hundreds more women and children in need can be reached."
Women and children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with 85 percent of homeless families headed by single women. As a result, Wheeler receives nearly 700 monthly requests from women for beds it cannot provide. To meet the increased need for shelter, Wheeler launched the campaign this past June 18.
"Since their arrival in Indianapolis 35 seasons ago, the Indianapolis Colts and the Irsay family have been an integral part in the life Wheeler Mission and those we serve," said Wheeler President/CEO Rick Alvis. "This generous gift will help Wheeler provide more desperately needed beds for homeless women and children."