Outgoing director of homeless shelter an ‘exceptional leader’

GREENFIELD — A local nonprofit leader lauded as an exceptional advocate for the area’s homeless population is saying goodbye to Hancock County.

Carl Denny, executive director of the Hancock Hope House, is stepping down after two years of overseeing the shelter.

Denny’s last day at the Hancock Hope House, which provides shelter to homeless families from Hancock, Shelby and Rush counties, will be Sept. 10. Denny, who manages the shelter and adjacent thrift store, said he’s building a home for his family in Avon, an hour commute from his Greenfield office and will return to his previous employer, Lazer Spot Inc. Yard Management Services and Solutions in Plainfield.

Local stakeholders say Denny’s impact on the community started with service projects he took on long before he became the Hope House executive director, but in his tenure with the shelter, he introduced major improvements, including the renovation of the facility’s thrift store, and he also stood out as a nonprofit leader in Greenfield.

While his time at the helm of the organization was short, Denny’s roots in the nonprofit community stretch back years. A decade ago, Denny established the 40,000 Pounds of Giving food drive, which has grown to bring in 125,000 pounds of food annually, divided up among 11 charitable organizations in four counties, including Hancock County. It was that kind of initiative — and caring for the less fortunate — that made Denny a natural choice to lead the shelter, supporters said.

Board members for the Hope House were saddened to learn of Denny’s departure, said Steve Long, Hancock Regional Hospital CEO and Hancock County Hope House board member.

“Carl is an exceptional leader who has a true heart for people,” Long said. “His influence on the organization and on the lives of the many individuals receiving care at the Hope House will not fade.”

Denny said serving at the Hope House, which can house up to 35 individuals, made a lasting impact on him, too; he better understands the viewpoint of people living in poverty, he said.

Working for the shelter, which was established in 1991, allowed him to be a voice for those struggling in the county and taught him to appreciate all his blessings, from support from loved ones to clean socks, he said.

Denny, who served as a Hope House board member before becoming the executive director, encourages all county residents to help out however possible, whether that means offering monetary donations, volunteering or donating gently used items to the shelter’s thrift store, known as the WEARhouse.

Linda Burt, who has volunteered for the Hope House for more than 10 years, has enjoyed working with Denny during his tenure, she said.

“He is very enthusiastic and always interested in the lives of residents and volunteers,” she said. “He has been a wonderful director of the Hope House, and he will be greatly missed.”

Linda Evans, who also serves on the Hope House board, said Denny’s two years have seen a complete turnaround of the facility. Though board members are saddened to see him go, they wish him the best, she said.

Denny said he leaves the position with mixed feelings because it has been very rewarding for him.

“The mentorship I provide to single men, encouragement to families who are here, knowing they’re safe and knowing they’re on a good path to being self-sufficient,” Denny said, “I’m going to miss that greatly.”

How to apply

The Hancock Hope House is now seeking candidates for the executive director position. Applicants should have experience in retail as well as nonprofit work. Applications may be brought to the shelter, 35 E. Pierson St., Greenfield, Indiana, 46140.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.