September 8, 2023

Gary Everling, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Hendricks Regional Health, serves on Shepherd Community Center’s Board of Directors. Everling says Shepherd’s Christ-centered approach to breaking the cycle of poverty inspires his commitment to serving with the ministry.

How did you first get involved at Shepherd Community Center?
I was part of Westside Church of the Nazarene, which founded Shepherd with a Thanksgiving dinner in the 1980s. I sang in the church choir at those Thanksgiving dinners. Shepherd was much smaller and different then. The mission was similar, but the approach was different than it is now. I supported Shepherd financially over the years. I was always impressed by Shepherd’s continuous focus on a Christ-centered hope that breaks the cycle of poverty.

How long have you served on Shepherd’s board?
I am very selective on what boards I am a part of, but when given the opportunity to join Shepherd’s board in 2019, it was something I simply couldn’t say no to. I decided to take a leap of faith, investing myself fully in the mission, strategic plan, vision, and constant improvement. It has been a steep learning curve, but I love being a part of it all.

What impressed you the most about Shepherd?
Shepherd has several cultural values that impress me. But I can’t give you just one, so I’ll give you my top three. First, is keeping a Christ-centered approach and life of faith. That has stood the test of time. Second, is the attitude of hope. If there is a community that needs hope – spiritually, economically, relationally – it is this community. We cannot live without hope and this value is critical to all our lives. Third is Shepherd’s unwavering focus on mission and purpose. Everyone who works at Shepherd is dedicated and committed with all their heart. I love that. I have worked with a lot of organizations that are missing these values, and Shepherd stays committed to them above all else. I believe that’s why they have success with our neighbors.

How do you see your gifts and passions being used at Shepherd and on the board?
It was good timing when I started serving on the board, because Shepherd was just initiating a new strategic plan. I am a strategy guy. That’s my strength for what I do every day – putting a plan and process together and figuring out how we measure those items. One of my first meetings on the Shepherd board was an all-day strategic planning session. I learned more that day than I would have in a year of board meetings. Along with many others on the board, I have some business acumen that Shepherd can borrow and put to good use. My incredible strategic planning team at Hendricks Regional Health are a huge help to Shepherd as well. They helped with crafting our strategic plan.

What is your vision for Shepherd moving forward?
I don’t have an individual vision for Shepherd, but our new strategic plan crafts the vision for the organization. I’ve been a part of groups where 50 people are trying to put together a single vision statement and it forces too much compromise, is too long, and is not inspiring. I challenged our group at Shepherd to spend a few months to think through it and keep it simple. What we came up with is truly inspiring and a great vision for Shepherd moving forward: “To be the light in our community on our neighbors’ journey of hope and transformation – spiritually, relational, economically.” Jay calls it “Re-Neighboring Our ‘Hood,” but I feel inspired by the idea to be the light.

What can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised a Hoosier. I grew up in Plainfield and still live there today. I married a beautiful girl from Lexington, Kentucky named Jackie, and we’ll be married 31 years in October. God blessed us with a wonderful son, Jayce, who is 25. He is married and just gave us our first grandbaby in February. I love being a grandpa. I went to Greenville College in Illinois for undergrad and got my MBA at the University of Indianapolis. I have worked in health care for over 25 years.

If you could share one thing with people who don’t know much about Shepherd, what would you tell them?
I would share Shepherd’s mission and the metrics that support our mission of breaking the cycle of poverty. There are few organizations that have done that very well. I think Shepherd has gotten to the point that we truly see that success. I also want people to know Shepherd’s approach to helping families get out of poverty is truly Christ-centered. It is the reason I joined and stayed committed to the Shepherd board.

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