People of Housing Security:
Wheeler Mission case manager brings empathy and compassion to help people during their toughest times.
Patrick May is a Bloomington townie “through and through.” He’s a graduate of Bloomington South and someone who’s working to make his hometown a better place for people who are marginalized and “don’t get the attention they deserve.”
His work at Wheeler Mission is one way he’s focusing that attention. As one of three full-time case managers, Patrick helps shelter guests at Wheeler find the resources they need to get housed. He works with an average of 12 people each week. He also does street outreach work, visiting encampments and building relationships with people staying there.
A third part of his job involves overseeing some of Wheeler’s grants, including a job readiness grant (paying for certificate programs, for example, or bus tickets to get to work) and a “barrier buster” grant that provides deposit assistance, transportation funds and other resources.
His heart lies in helping people and being with them “in some of their toughest times,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for just being with someone and listening to them.”
As with most case managers, Patrick feels there’s not enough time or resources to fill the needs he sees. It’s hard to plan your day because you never know how much time someone might need, or how long it might take to provide what they need.
But the biggest challenge is finding housing, especially housing that’s the right fit for an individual. “There are a lot of apartments being built in Bloomington,” Patrick noted. “But I don’t know that there’s enough focus on housing for people in the lower economic bracket.”
That’s a frustration he has even in looking for housing for himself, “so I can’t even imagine what our guests feel like.”
“There are a lot of apartments being built in Bloomington. But I don’t know that there’s enough focus on housing for people in the lower economic bracket.”Patrick May, Wheeler Mission
He also sees the people he works with get stigmatized for being unhoused, and urges the community to get more directly involved in addressing homelessness to overcome that stigma. Volunteering at agencies like Wheeler, where you can get to know people directly, is a great way to build empathy and compassion, Patrick said. “Even a couple of hours can go a long way.”
At Wheeler, volunteers work in the kitchen and help with cleaning and maintenance, among other things.
Patrick joined Wheeler in 2022, first as a volunteer then as a full-time employee in June of that year.
In 2021 Patrick graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he majored in religious studies with a minor in music business. He finds music as a kind of therapy, and has an eclectic taste that includes Christian Screamo, folk pop and acoustic. His latest concert earlier this year was Ed Sheeran at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
He plays guitar and sings, and hopes to bring music into his work at Wheeler.
He’s also a self-described “fantasy football fanatic” and hockey fan, supporting the Nashville Predators. Rounding out his interest in sports, Patrick follows baseball and collects baseball cards.
About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.