Westport resident Jeff Wieser's unlikely transition from international banker to head of a homegrown organization dedicated to battling homelessness was actually quite easy.
"This spoke to me," Jeff, 58, said of Homes With Hope. "And it continues to speak to me. This is a local response to homelessness founded by Westporters."
Though he became the president and CEO of Westport's Homes With Hope in April, Jeff's ties to the organization go way back. In the late '80s, Jeff got to know Pete Powell, the former head of Homes With Hope, through his church's outreach group.
"We really got to know each other and he asked me if I would come on board," Jeff said. "And in 1989, I joined the board [of directors]."
As an international banker, though, Jeff's career often required him to travel, and as a result, step down from the board. But in 1995, Jeff rejoined Homes With Hope and has been steadily involved with the organization since, serving as chairman of several board committees and of the board itself.
A non-profit group, Homes With Hope offers more than just emergency shelters for the homeless. A full-service organization, Homes With Hope aims to find a solution to homelessness, not put a bandage over it, Jeff said.
"For the people that come through our program, we don't just provide a bed for the night, we help to get them a permanent bed," Jeff said with pride. "We have permanent housing complexes, a community kitchen run by wonderful volunteers that serves about 40 meals a night, a women's mentoring group, and we offer a pre-vocational jobs program."
It's for all of these reasons, and more, that Jeff is involved and committed to the organization. And for this expectant first-time grandfather, they are also the reasons why he sees himself with the organization for many more years to come.
"This really is a local response to a local need and I enjoy being part of that local response," Jeff said. "I'm very excited to be in this position."
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