Home for the Holidays

These past few months have been very trying times for our Native Community; especially for our homeless and displaced peoples. Wyoming winters are some of the harshest times and the cold can last for months. This past week temperatures in Fremont County had dropped into negative temperatures. Some locations on the Wind River Reservation registered at -50 degrees. Waterlines froze, the power went out, and winter storms closed many businesses and schools.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare’s response to the homelessness crisis has always been to provide services to the Native Transient population. In the past, the Strengthening Generations Team of WRFCHC would meet and encourage our transients to seek medical assistance. Behavioral Health providers were also present to assist as well. Food and prayers were offered during these meetings at Riverton City Park.

Today, WRFCHC Population Health Department assists in offering shelter to homeless tribal members in the local area. IHS beneficiaries, ages 18 years and older, are eligible to utilize the shelter located at 325 Left Hand Ditch Road in Arapahoe. Requirements to stay at the shelter include a full medical assessment and intake with WRFCHC Clinic and White Buffalo Recovery Program.

“We cannot let another homeless tribal member suffer through this cold. If we can help and keep our people from freezing and being a victim to the cold, that’s what we are going to do,” said Richard Brannan, CEO of WRFCHC.

WRFCHC is in the process of renovating a modular building at the 789 Casino and Truck Stop that will be utilized for a warming station. 

“The existing shelter in Arapahoe is located a significant distance from Riverton; thus, we are going to open the warming station at the 789 Casino and Truck Stop so that individuals that are less fortunate will have a facility that can serve that is within walking distance from the Riverton City limits,” stated Mr. Brannan. “Our one and only goal is to keep people alive by not allowing them to freeze to death. We are hopeful that this initiative will be supported by the whole community and that each and every one of us pitch in to help keep people in need alive and well.”

“It is meeting the basic needs of our homeless people. We can care and practice kindness for each other. I feel like our elected officials, at all levels, can do more to help address this issue,” stated Lisa Yawakia, Communication Specialist at WRFCHC.

As of last Friday, eleven people are staying at the shelter. Donations are currently being accepted for clothing, winter wear and hygiene items. For more information please contact case management at 307-438-0534.

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