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The Wyoming Rescue Mission fundraises over $300,000 to help take care of the homeless

The Wyoming Rescue Mission's Park Street facility in Casper.
Wyoming Rescue Mission
The Wyoming Rescue Mission's Park Street facility in Casper.

TheWyoming Rescue Mission in Casper recently fundraised just over $300,000 from a community fundraising andmatch initiative that helps fund the facility’s programs and operations for the coming months.

The Wyoming Rescue Mission is the state’s largest homeless shelter and is currently caring for about 100 residents. Though the Mission undertakes a matching funds fundraising campaign annually, this year was different.

“We took an extra step this year really with increased need and increased cost connected to inflation [for more fundraising],” said Brad Hopkins, Executive Director of the Wyoming Rescue Mission. “We had been at $125,000 and took [a] significant step, raising that to $150,[000] and we made it.”

An additional $153,699 was raised in May during their annual match challenge, where local foundations challenge the community to “meet the match” and encourage charitable donations. Hopkins said while they have received public funding in the past, they don’t currently.

The Mission will open facilities for addiction treatment for men and women next month, which are across from their current facility. Additionally, other programs include spiritual and health programs as well as providing three hot meals a day for residents, laundry facilities, and mental health treatment in a faith-based model.

The Wyoming Rescue Mission’s beginnings can be traced to 1978, when it was founded by Rev. Art Munchler and called Soul’s Anchor, which was located in a storefront on CY Avenue. In 1991, it moved into the renovated Park Street Hotel and in 2017, the name was changed to the Wyoming Rescue Mission to reflect its service to all of the state. The current Park Street facility was dedicated approximately three years ago and cost around $6 million, which provides room for up to 205 residents, according to Hopkins. All services to residents are free of charge.

Homeless shelters, like the Wyoming Rescue Mission, are located in only a few communities statewide, with many smaller cities and towns having few if any social services for the homeless. Because of the size of the facility, the kinds of services it offers, and Casper’s central location, many homeless people eventually pass through the Mission’s doors.

Hopkins said around 85 percent of the homeless residents they care for are from Wyoming, of which approximately 43 percent are from Natrona County. Just over one third of residents are racial or ethnic minorities. And while he said the reasons for homelessness are many, issues with mental health, substance abuse, and loss of employment, especially when someone is already struggling with poverty, are common causes.

Hopkins also said that the Mission provides around 60,000 meals over the course of the year and nearly 50,000 nights of stay. They also estimate that they expect to provide about 15,000 meals and around 10,000 nights of stay this summer alone. He also cited census statistics that indicated 58,000 Wyomingites, or approximately 10 percent of the state’s total population, are living in extreme poverty.

Those who are interested may donate goods, volunteer hours, services, or financially to the Wyoming Rescue Mission. More information can be found on theirwebsite.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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