Greenwood couple hiring homeless to work at pizza place: ‘They feel human again’

GREENWOOD, Ind. – A Greenwood restaurant that specializes in Chicago style pizza is giving back to the homeless.

Tom and Angie Wilhelmi opened Agapé Pizza on the city’s south side in December.

The Wilhelmis’ love for pizza and helping the less fortunate started a few years ago when they moved to Indiana from Chicago. The couple says when they met Brian and Tiffany Walls of Tear Down the Walls Ministries, their partnership and dream took off.

“Every other weekend we were making 12 inch individual pizzas for each homeless person and another weekend we would do baked mostaccioli, we would do lasagna,” explained Angie Wilhelmi.

They found a way to combine their two passions by opening the pizza shop.

“For us to be able to lead with our right foot and our right hand and say come on, we’re going to give you a lift up,” said Tom Wilhelmi.

The Wilhelmis only employ formerly homeless people, living in transitional housing, like Milford Weeks. He went from living in a tent on the White River, to transitional housing, then to making pizzas.

“Being on the street, it really is nasty,” Weeks said.

This job turned his life around. He says he couldn’t thank the Wilhelmis enough for what they’re doing for him and other people who need some help.

“Get them back up to where they feel human again, where they actually have an appreciation for life again,” added Weeks. “They’re able to pay bills, they’re able to buy new clothes, just be human and be productive again.”

That’s why the Wilhelmis do it. They don’t take a paycheck. Instead, 100 percent of the tips go directly to the local ministry, Tear Down the Walls. The nonprofit also gets 5 percent of their net sales.

“Instead of always being turned down for jobs, here you got the job, don’t worry about it,” Angie said. “It just gives them more self confidence that they’re able to go out and look for other things.”

For Tom, he knows the struggles firsthand.

“For a couple of weeks when I was transitioning from selling drugs and running a gambling operation, to trying to go legit, I was homeless myself.”

The Wilhelmis want Agapé Pizza to be a new beginning for their employees.

“There are 15,000 homeless people around Indianapolis and there are not enough people to love and help them back up,” said Tom Wilhelmi.

Agapé Pizza is always looking for volunteers as they continue to grow.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. It’s located at 1201 Greenwood Park East Drive.

For more information you can call (317) 893-5117 or click here to visit their website.

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