Homelessness prevention with ‘respect and dignity;’ Eagles Hope requests $77,600

(Riverton, WY) – More than 170 families received housing and homelessness prevention services last year through the Eagles Hope Transitions Center.

The total includes 52 school-aged children, center director Michelle Widmayer told the Riverton City Council this week.

But there are still more people who need help: Widmayer said she maintains a 75-person waiting list and has to turn away an average of 20 clients each month – or about 240 people each year.

“We have a need in Fremont County,” Widmayer said. “(We need) to serve families – to feed them, to keep them warm, to get them to school, to teach them, to train them, to help them be employable.”

‘Respect and dignity’

In addition to emergency and transitional housing, Eagles Hope provides people with food, hygiene kits, laundry services, bedding, clothing, case management, group meetings, Bible studies, parenting classes, financial management training, job readiness and life skills classes, transportation, and referrals to other local organizations, Widmayer said.

The center also works to prevent homelessness by providing utility and rental assistance, she said, and purchasing bus tickets for people who are stranded and looking for a way to get home.

“We approach our mission with respect and dignity, with the goal of improving long-term personal and financial stability,” Widmayer said. “We are an organization at the heart of the community that does not look away when things are heavy.”

She asked the city council to contribute $77,600 to the Eagles Hope mission this year – $30,600 more than last year – through the local community service funding process.

Of that total, she said $31,500 would go toward utilities, with $15,600 for building insurance, $10,000 for groceries, $10,000 for hygiene and bedding supplies, $9,500 for emergency rental and utility assistance, and $1,000 for drug and alcohol test kits.

“I am not asking for salaries to be paid – I am asking for money to be able to directly respond to the needs in Riverton,” Widmayer said.

The city council will consider her funding request at a future meeting.

Emergency shelter

Eagles Hope acquired the Good Samaritan homeless shelter in 2020 and began using the facility to provide emergency housing.

That shelter is now closed, Widmayer said, explaining that she does not have enough employees to keep the facility open 24 hours a day.

“This is extremely challenging work and takes individuals with a specific skill set and experience, (and we can’t) pay a competitive wage,” she said.

Now, both emergency and transitional housing services share the Eagles Hope facility on Main Street.

Eagles Hope has been able to maintain operations at the “vintage” house it acquired along with the Good Samaritan shelter, however.

Widmayer said the house now serves as a thrift store, providing work opportunities for clients as well as household goods, free of charge, for anyone in need.

Click here to learn more about Eagles Hope.

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