Rebuilding lives while building furniture: Purposeful Design focuses on expanding

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Posted at 9:48 PM, Apr 22, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — The focus for the men building furniture inside Purposeful Design on Indianapolis' east side is on a better future.

For 15 years off and on, Paul Adams battled a heroin addiction.

“I disrupted a lot of people’s lives who were doing good, they weren’t on drugs,” Adams said.

“Because of my addiction and having to feed that addiction, I made some really bad choices,” Adams said. “I hurt a lot of people along the way.”

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Paul Adams talks to WRTV's Nicole Griffin

Those people included Adams' children and family members. Adams says his choices even caused him to lose his landscaping business.

Now, he’s trying to make a change.

“I’ve been clean for two years so far, hopefully, it continues. I don't want to fall back,” he said.

Adams started working at Purposeful Design earlier this year. The furniture he makes is sold to universities. airports, hospitals and businesses.

“The life rebuilding work we do is lasting. It’s all built on a foundation of work and responsibility here,” Purposeful Design CEO & Founder David Palmer said.

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"I don’t want to be a 65-year-old man still going to jail," Dewey Titus said.

Palmer worked for more than a decade as a board member at Wheeler Mission. He spent time with men who face the same struggles as his employees at Purposeful Design — struggles like addiction and homelessness.

Over and over he heard them say they were looking for a job. That’s where the idea and passion for Purposeful Design, which launched eight years ago, stems from.

At Purposeful Design, they train and employ men to build furniture, providing them with both job skills and life skills. Each one is referred through partner agencies like Wheeler Mission and Good News Ministry.

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"They help people out like me, people from prison, homelessness or just addiction to drugs," Isaiah Clarey said.

“Probably the statistic that motivates me to keep pouring into this is our relapse and recidivism rates and return to homelessness rates are approximately one-fifth to one-tenth that of the national average. So clearly it's working,” Palmer said.

Now, Palmer has a goal to expand and impact even more lives. Last year, they helped 34 new men.

“We have a big goal this year of 50 men employed and trained and ultimately our growth vision is 100 men employed and trained here in Indianapolis per year,” he said.

Purposeful Design hopes to eventually replicate its model across the country. Palmer says the world needs it.

That vision is becoming a reality through a $4.5 million dollar grant from Lilly Endowment, awarded to Purposeful Design in 2021.

The money is helping buy new equipment, expand training, and hopefully purchase their current facility.

“Being able to be here and be around this environment where you are connected with God and everyone around you is the same page, trying to do different, trying to do better, not trying to fall back into old ways. It's amazing,” Adams said.

In order to continue its work, Purposeful Design needs continued support from the community and businesses that want to support its mission. Click here to learn more.