It all started with a prayer.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Feeding 150 men in 25 minutes or less sounds impossible. But with faith and help from the community, the Wheeler Mission men’s shelter does it every day – seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“On a daily basis it’s probably going to be between 400 and 600 men per day. Approximately 200 at lunchtime and about 400 at dinner, but it’s all based on the weather,” said chef Sam Brown.
It wasn’t a Colts Community Tuesday and it’s not even football season, but on Wednesday afternoon, Colts players Matthias Farley (S), Edwin Jackson (ILB), Curt Maggitt (OLB), T.Y. McGill (DT), Frankie Williams (CB) and Andrew Williamson (S) showed up to lend a helping hand.
“When I went out to explain to them that they had special volunteers today, they were very excited,” said Brown.
And so were the players.
“For us to come out and serve them, they sit down, we bring them a hot plate, we bring them a good, cold drink, we make sure they have everything they need to enjoy their meal,” said Curt Maggitt. “It’s a great interaction.”
And that interaction is what it’s mostly about.
“Food is easy,” said Bethany Alvis, director of volunteers. “That is what brings the people in the doors. But here, we long for relationships. We long to know names, stories, where they’re from, where they want to go, and how we can help along that journey.”
For people coming in off the streets, just someone asking their name can be significant.
“A lot of times, people just don’t get asked those questions,” Alvis said. “That can go a long way, just for someone’s heart to be encouraged. To have someone that they see on TV take time to say, ‘You have so much worth,’ that goes a really long way.”
And so does the perspective it brings – on both sides.
“It’s great for us because we work really hard, we do all these things, but we have nothing to complain about,” said Matthias Farley. “No matter how stressful it is, no matter what’s happening today or happening tomorrow, the uncertainties that playing in the NFL entails, it puts it in perspective – how simple life really is.”
The Colts have been great partners for the Wheeler Mission. And that relationship is reflected all over their walls.
“Several years ago, we entered into a capital campaign because we realized that we were not extending radical hospitality to our guests,” said Alvis. “The number of homeless guys on the streets was growing and we needed to grow with it.”
They started a capital campaign to raise millions of dollars to expand and renovate and the Colts stepped up to help – in a big way.
“The Irsay family and the Colts Foundation, they just rallied around and gave us a quarter of a million dollars to improve our services,” Alvis said.
It allowed them to triple their capacity. And this week, the Colts stepped up again – with manpower to serve those in need.
“I think oftentimes we look elsewhere, you look at other countries or you look at other people in different places and you think that’s where the help is needed,” said Farley. “But there are people right here in our backyard that are dealing with the exact same thing that people are dealing with all over the world.”
They didn’t move mountains – but they did move people.
And that’s where it starts.