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Riverton clothing drive highlights lack of resources for people without shelter

Four people talk outside at a park.
Taylar Stagner
Carol Harper and Leslie Spoonhunter with Riverton Peace Mission put together a warm clothing and blanket drive located at Riverton City Park.

This week, a group in Riverton is collected warm clothes and blankets after a man who was homeless died earlier this month. The drive highlights the lack of resources for individuals who are homeless during winter.

The name of the man who passed under cardboard boxes has not been released. He was found near main street Riverton.

Leslie Spoonhunter is with the Riverton Peace Mission, the group putting on the clothing drive. She said there are many people in Riverton who are homeless but few places for them to go.

“It's been ongoing for many years, I don't think that we really looked at it. I mean, it's there. We've had , shelters that opened and closed. But now, they're more so closed than open. And there's not many places for folks to go and get warm or seek a meal,” she said.

Currently, Eagles Hope is the only transitional housing facility in Riverton and is at full capacity at all times. They also have a no drugs and alcohol policy, which if violated means they cannot stay at Eagles Hope.

The waitlist has been close to 100 people in the past, according to Michelle Widmayer Executive Director of Eagles Hope.

The other nearest shelter is the Wyoming Rescue Mission in Casper.

Spoonhunter said there needs to be a bigger conversation on how to support people experiencing homelessness.

“I think if we get out there and talk to our homeless population, to see what they want, or you know, what they would see in a homeless shelter. It was something like, they can go in and out or if it's something long term, they get, you know, get on their feet,” she said.

Other deaths in the last few years have reportedly happened due to hypothermia around central Wyoming. Those include Horace J. Big Medicine Jr. and Robert Tillman Jr. in 2019. Benjamin J. Piper Jr. in 2018. Myron Chavez Sr. in 2017 and Adrianna Goggles in 2016.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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