Wheeler Center for Women & Children opens


INDIANAPOLIS – Early today, Wheeler Mission officially opened the doors of its new Center for Women & Children, located at 3208 East Michigan Street. The organization invested $14.8 million to create the state-of-the-art facility, which will be able to serve up to 367 women and children a day.

Wheeler Center for Women and Children opening

“Today, we are celebrating the start of a new legacy for Wheeler Mission, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable population in our city: women and children,” said Wheeler Mission CEO and President Rick Alvis. “This center will be a place for women and children to find safety while also having access to life-changing programming and support from our skilled and dedicated staff.”


When Wheeler Mission broke ground on this development in November 2019, it promised the homeless that the new facility will give them access to a better future, more programming and, more immediately, more space. Today, that vision was made visible.


“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to our donors and contributors. Your support and prayers made this dream facility become a reality,” said Perry Hines, chief development officer of Wheeler Mission. “A top-tier facility like this one shows the homeless population that we value and respect them, and we will help them focus on restoring their lives.”


Alvis and Allison Melangton, capital campaign chair, thanked event attendees, both in-person and virtually, whose support of the campaign enabled Wheeler Mission to open the expanded facility on schedule, despite the global pandemic. Melangton, who was a huge asset to the success of this campaign, was honored with a plaque dedicating the courtyard in her name during today’s event.


“The opening of these doors marks a renewed hope for homeless women and children around Indianapolis,” said Melangton. “The services they will receive here will first and foremost help them heal. But as importantly, we will help them find permanent housing and the independence and confidence they had lost.”


Every month, Wheeler Mission has to turn down up to 700 requests for beds. With the opening of the new Center for Women & Children, many more women and children can be accommodated. The center includes:


  • 84 new family shelter beds
  • 40 new emergency shelter beds
  • 15 full-time and three part-time staff members to increase the staff-to-guest ratio and provide security and program support
  • 50% increase in programming, including counseling, job training, addiction recovery, social enterprise and other services
  • A dayroom, offering women and children immediate relief from the streets
  • A new, secure child care area
  • An indoor play space for children
  • Expanded on-site medical and mental health clinics
  • Redesigned and expanded dining areas to promote a more family-friendly environment
  • Visiting rooms designated for individuals and families meeting with community service providers
  • Expanded education center


The expansion also allows Wheeler Mission to provide care for multigenerational guests by designating some sleeping accommodations by age group. “Women, especially elderly women, are able to recover at a higher probability when they are surrounded by people in their same demographic,” said Colleen Gore, Wheeler’s chief program officer for women. “Having housing accommodations for specific age groups is something we haven’t be able to provide due to limited space. This addition will truly be life-changing for everyone, from new mothers with newborns to elderly guests.”


Notable contributions to the campaign include a $3 million donation from Lilly Endowment with an additional $1 million contributed through a one-to-one matching funds challenge. In addition, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust contributed $1 million, and the project received $1.6 million in proceeds received from New Market Tax Credits provided by the City of Indianapolis.


Needed donations for the Center for Women & Children can be accessed through their Amazon Wishlist. For more information and ways you can help Wheeler Mission, visit BuildingforChange.org.




Wheeler Mission

Founded in 1893, Wheeler Mission has been serving the Indianapolis community through a variety of programs for the most disadvantaged citizens – the poor and the homeless. Funding for these programs has always come from the private sector as Wheeler does not receive government funds.


Media Contact

Clare Leonard