A change in the Executive Director of an organization is always news and so it is an important milestone that last month our longtime President and C.E.O., Jeff Wieser, announced his retirement.
Jeff had been a board member of the organization since its early days, and has led Homes with Hope as executive director for nine years. During that time, he has overseen the successful operations at the Gillespie Center and the Bacharach Community and expanded the portfolio of 44 supportive housing units.
During his tenure, Project Return merged with Homes with Hope, a program which provides services to homeless young women ages 18 to 24. Homes with Hope has become even further established as a leader in regional not-for-profit services and as a national role model demonstrating how a suburban town can be effective in responding to homelessness.
“Jeff has been a transformative, innovative leader in the fight to eliminate homelessness in Westport and southern Fairfield County,” said John Walsh, chair of the HwH Board. “During his nine years as executive director, HwH more than doubled its shelter capacity providing beds for 115 individuals nightly. Jeff also introduced numerous creative initiatives to better serve our clients such as the after-school mentoring program which currently provides learning support to 10 of the children residing in HwH facilities.
“He is also a powerful advocate for the homeless beyond our community in his roles in Opening Doors of Fairfield County and as board chair of Supportive Housing Works, a regional collaborative whose mission is to end chronic homelessness in Fairfield County.”
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe called Homes with Hope “one of the community services that makes Westport so special” and noted that under Jeff’s leadership, the organization “has expanded its affordable, supportive housing options, its relationships with other not-for-profit agencies and its overall community support.”
“As a local resident, Jeff saw the opportunity to leverage his business and professional experience with his passion for helping others, and has helped make Homes with Hope even better than he found it,” he said. “On behalf of the Town of Westport, I want to thank Jeff for his untiring service to our community and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.”
A search committee has been formed and will focus on finding a local leader who understands both the Westport and Fairfield County communities and the supporters who have allowed HwH to remain such an effective operator in the homeless advocacy arena. Jeff will remain in his position until a replacement is found.
“Being involved with Homes with Hope over the last 30 years, first on the Board, and then as executive director, has been the most satisfying professional role of my life,” said Wieser. “It is easy to be proud of the Homes with Hope organization, and it is easier to be proud of the community that supports HwH so spiritually and generously. I look forward to staying involved in any way that I can be useful to Homes with Hope and Westport.”