Having grown up on the city’s west side and through his long career in construction and development, Wheeler is dedicated to giving back to his community.
Outside of his work in the construction industry, Wheeler wears many hats. He’s a patron of the arts, a steward of education, and a Coast Guard-licensed boat captain. In some capacity, Wheeler works with others to channel these parts of his life into community building and charity work.
“I was born and raised here and this town has been very good to me,” he said. “I like helping out at a grassroots level and want to continue to do what I can because I’ve been blessed.”
With the help of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Wheeler manages the John J. Wheeler Charitable Fund, which most recently provided scholarship funding to the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. The scholarship provides inner city students with media production training at Mackinaw Harvest Studios.
Through his work with the Student Advancement Council, Wheeler helps raise money to build and maintain libraries in the public elementary schools around city. He also tapped the services of Orion Construction Co. — where he sits on the management team — to donate time and materials to building new bathrooms for the William C. Abney Middle School at 265 Alger Street SE in Grand Rapids.
Wheeler often donates his charter fishing boat — No Limits — to charity auction events and even serves as the captain of the vessel on trips.
“It’s a really cool thing for me to give people that experience,” he said. “Doing these things just kind of rounds you out as person. It’s just part of the fabric of how I was raised.”