Summit for Unhoused starts on Thursday
Media release from Riverton Peace Mission:
The Summit for Our Homeless Neighbors is being convened by the Riverton Peace Mission on March 16-17, 2023 at the Wind River Casino in the Blue Sky Room to provide an opportunity for participants to come together to address key issues facing our homeless. neighbors in Fremont County.
“We see people dying because they have no safe place to go. Poverty, addictions, untreated medical conditions, community violence and racism intersect at the forefront of our families who are without the shelter and help they need,” said Allison Sage of Northern Arapaho and one of the summit organizers and co-chair of Riverton Peace. Mission. “Riverton used to have a detox center for people under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, but not now.” Riverton had cover, but not now. City of Riverton locks public restrooms overnight. The ‘Clean up Riverton’ effort prioritizes looking good over treating our people with dignity. We have to improve.”
The Summit is designed for maximum benefit among participants working to develop a better future for the homeless in Fremont County. The morning of the first day includes a panel of Native Americans who have experienced homelessness, including teenagers. The panel will give other attendees a view of what it’s like to have nowhere to go safely and what minimum level of services could help preserve an individual’s dignity and sustain life.
The keynote speaker at the luncheon is Ann M. Miller, who will share her experiences with breaking the cycle of serial incarceration that often leads to a person being moved out with a holistic approach that addresses unmet basic needs. Miller was an attorney for the Office of the Defender of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Reservation in Montana for twenty-six years and a senior attorney for sixteen years. During her tenure, the Defender’s Office established an innovative in-house service for clients with co-occurring mental illness and chemical dependency and adopted a holistic defense practice with the help of the Center for Holistic Advocacy sponsored by the Bronx Defenders Office in New York. In 2015, conservationists created the Flathead Reservation Reentry Program, which provides interdisciplinary support services for tribal members returning to the reservation from incarceration. The services of the defender’s office have expanded to include mental health client advocates, cultural mentoring and permanent supportive housing. Miller served six years on the Montana Public Defender Commission and two years on the Montana Statewide Reentry Task Force. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Justice Center, Council of State Governments. Miller is the 2021 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Dorsey Award, which recognizes legal services to the indigent.
The next speaker is Richard Brannon, CEO of Wind River Family and Community Health Care (Wind River Cares) on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Brannon will share a program recently launched by Wind River Cares with plans to expand that serves vulnerable individuals and families and accepts them as they are as volunteer clients. Wind River Cares provides a health care model to address the needs of the homeless. Brannon said, “I want to work with others to do more. The Riverton Police Department brings us people who need our help. That’s something we can work on together.”
Roar. Bob Garrard, former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Family Promise of Cheyenne, will share how churches came together in Cheyenne to put together services for the homeless. Family Promise of Cheyenne is a faith-supported shelter program and community partners that offers children and families a safe haven, resources and education, meeting people where they are. “The programs need to be developed at the community level. What works in one place may not work in another. But I can tell you how by coming together we were able to do this for us in Cheyenne.”
On the morning of March 17, Rosa Salamanca, a conciliation specialist with the US Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services, will help facilitate a discussion of the plan for where we go from here. This Summit is just another step in the process to provide a holistic approach to addressing the causes of homelessness, not just the symptoms, and in a way that respects the dignity of every person, including traditions and culture.
Anyone who commits to attend the summit from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, and continues from 8:00 a.m. to noon on March 17, and who commits to continue working afterward to find meaningful solutions in Fremont County and for the Wind River Indian Reserve for our homeless neighbors. The Riverton Peace Mission particularly encourages service providers, religious leaders, and local government and tribal officials to participate, including law enforcement.
Pre-registration is required on the Riverton Peace Mission website. There is no cost, although donations are appreciated. Breakfast is provided on both days and lunch on March 16. Vendor tables from attendees are also available upon request on the registration website. People register at: https://www.rivertonpeacemission.org/summit-for-our-unhoused-neighbors .
The Riverton Peace Mission is grateful to the many volunteers who came together to help plan and execute this event and for a grant from the Bargain Box, an organization of Christ Episcopal Church in Cody, Wyoming, which provided much of the funding.