In March, the Riverton Peace Mission (RPM) planted seeds to address needs of unhoused people in Fremont County with the Summit for Our Unhoused Neighbors, thanks to a grant through Christ Episcopal Church in Cody to cover the costs. Over 100 attended and from that came the Unhoused Task Force. Concern was sparked when a Northern Cheyenne man died of hypothermia last November at a Main Street parking lot in Riverton. In response, a drive for sleeping bags and other items allowed direct help to those living on the street.
While people were generous, we knew this was not the answer. We were addressing symptoms, while RPM is called to address root causes of why people die of hypothermia in our community. The county coroner educated us that people died in their own homes last winter from hypothermia because of no heat. We learned that if someone is intoxicated, they are not eligible for help at Eagles Hope or the Center of Hope and that Fremont County no longer has a detox center. Native Americans are the most vulnerable here.
Through hard work, answers are taking root. The Northern Arapaho’s Wind River Community and Family Health Care is establishing a warming station at 789, 3 miles south of Riverton. While this is for American Indian tribal members, staff say no one will be turned away when human life is at stake.
Until long term solutions, the Unhoused Task Force has determined that a shelter is needed in Riverton for this winter. “Where?” is the first decision. Wherever it is, supplies will be needed, like fold-up single beds and bedding, that we can begin collecting now.
How you can help:
Join the task force. The next meeting is August 30 at 4 pm at the Riverton Branch Library or by Zoom.
Make donations of needed items. To arrange delivery, email email@example.com.
Donate at RPM’s website or mail checks to RPM, PO Box 255, Riverton WY 82501 and designate for “Shelter in Riverton.”
Volunteer for grant-writing, to help at the shelter and in other ways by responding to this message.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice. Chesie Lee