Preparing for Winter Contingency in Indianapolis

Preparing for Winter Contingency in Indianapolis

While autumn may have just arrived, cold weather isn’t too far behind. With temperatures about to dip, our team at Wheeler Mission is already preparing for our busiest season.

Enter Winter Contingency.

Did you know that Indianapolis has no municipally run shelter? That means that for thousands of people in crisis, Wheeler Mission is “Door Number 1.”

As weather gets cold, conditions outdoors become unpredictable and increasingly hazardous for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. The city has a surge in the number of men, women, and children seeking shelter. The solution? Winter Contingency.

Winter Contingency is a collaboration between Wheeler Mission, other local providers, and the City of Indianapolis. While this program has been incorporated into the city’s plans, Wheeler Mission receives no government funding. Instead, we rely on the generosity of our donors to provide resources we need to serve several hundred additional people each night. We create over-flow spaces to ensure that anyone needing shelter and safety can sleep indoors—be it in a bed or a cot on our floor. For five months out of the year, November 1 through March 31, outreach teams from various agencies perform “street sweeps” to find and transport unsheltered individuals to safety.

What does this mean for Wheeler?

To put this in perspective…during non-Winter Contingency months (April 1—October 31), Wheeler Mission typically shelters an average of 620 guests per night throughout all our facilities. But during Winter Contingency, that number jumps to an average of 826 guests per night. On February 19, 2019, we sheltered more people than ever before in our history—919 men, women, and children in a single night. Every bed was full, with additional men, women, and children— of all ages—sleeping on cots and mats.

Even as we prepare every spare inch of floor for sleeping, our shelters don’t suffice. We’re so thankful for the Central Christian and Cornerstone Lutheran congregations for sharing their facilities to be used as our additional overflow spaces. We thank God for them, as these friendships remind us of what the Body of Christ can do together when we link arms.

Will you stand with us during Winter Contingency?

Pray for wisdom and discernment as our team accommodates hundreds more men, women, and children. Pray for our volunteers who so graciously step in to ease the load. And pray for our guests, precious people who come to us amidst life-threatening dangers. Pray that they find peace, nourishment, rest, and life-transforming help. If you would like to sign up to be a Wheeler Mission Prayer Partner, email Julie Alvis.

Come serve with us and love your neighbors face-to-face. We need additional volunteers to serve meals, provide laundry support, show hospitality, and much more.

Wheeler Mission receives no government funding, so we rely on the community’s generosity as our staff and resources will be stretched—we even hire seasonal support. Will you give generously to ensure we have the resources we need to care for all who come?

Thank you for your compassion and care. While we grieve the deep hurt and poverty within our community, we rejoice that we exist to offer help, hope, and the healing love of Christ. Thank you for standing with us.

Stay tuned for a follow-up piece, where we unpack our Winter Contingency efforts in Bloomington.