GOSHEN COUNTY – It’s that time of year when love, fellowship and feel-good moments abound – but for many Goshen County residents, the holidays only highlight a lack of food, money and support. Torrington’s Kyle Borger leads multiple community groups designed to lend a helping hand, and he’s looking for other service-minded individuals to join the cause.
Borger acts as pastor of the Torrington Church of the Nazarene, president of Goshen HELP, director of the local Salvation Army and president of the Goshen County Ministerial Organization – all of which are working to restore dignity and uphold humanity this holiday season and throughout the year.
Goshen HELP began with the intention to help homeless youth in the area.
“What we’re experiencing in Goshen County (is) there’s usually about a dozen youth who are homeless here,” he said. “You don’t see them laying under the bridge or out on the street – they’re couch surfing. One of the biggest challenges they have is taking care of themselves.”
With the passage of House Bill 159 last spring, unemanicipated and homeless minors who meet certain criteria may obtain birth certificates and enter into contracts.
“Clergy, school workers (etc.) can sign an affidavit which says, ‘Yes, this teen is actually homeless, (his or her) parents aren’t trying to establish contact,’ so they can act on their own,” Borger explained. “That’s really important so that they can take care of themselves.”
Goshen HELP assists homeless youth with the new law and obtaining necessary documents to enter the workforce, enroll in college classes and more. In addition, the organization works with school counselors to provide resources – personal hygiene items, etc. in the form of Totes For Hope.
“Students can also contact us directly and we’ll direct them to where we’re storing the (Totes For Hope),” Borger said.
In the future, Goshen HELP hopes to offer transitional housing for homeless youth, but for now, Borger said immediate goals include securing donations and identifying homeless in the area.
“A part of our (immediate) needs are professionals on the Goshen HELP board,” he said. “We could use a financial advisor, someone who has more contacts within the business sector … a lawyer. We mostly have connections with social agencies, so in order for us to move forward to the next step, we need to begin securing contacts and bringing on those people to the board.”
The Salvation Army
A trip to the grocery store or a storefront along Torrington’s main drag this time of year is often accompanied by the jangling of bells.
Borger took the reins as director of the local Salvation Army extension office in July.
“Every year, we try to reiterate that what is raised in Goshen County is used in Goshen County,” he said. “We have a committee working with the police department and a couple other agencies that refer to us to provide for rent assistance, utility assistance, clothing, food (and) medical (assistance).”
The bell ringers usually raise between $4,000 and $5,000, but Borger hopes to see that number increase to $6,000 this year.
“We’re looking for more ringers,” he said.
The organization is also working to act as central clearinghouse for churches in the area that receive requests for assistance.
“If we’re giving through one central system, then we’re being more effective and good stewards of our resources,” Borger said.
Additionally, the Salvation Army is currently holding a coat distribution by appointment – see Borger’s contact information at the end of this article for details.
Mobile Food Pantry
The Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies will provide the next Mobile Food Pantry on Monday, Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. at the Goshen County Fairgrounds’ Pavilion.
“With the Mobile Food Pantry, there are no qualifications. There’s no residence check – what we require is simply a registration to provide the demographics of your family, and each family can fill out a form so they can provide groceries for one other family (and they must) provide their information,”
Previously, food bank attendees lined up for hours outside the door when the event was held at the Rendezvous Center.
“In the Pavilion, (people) can wait in the bleachers,” he said. “We’re asking people to not show up before 7 a.m. We’ll be using a ticket system to hold their spot in line, and they will be called up by ticket.”
The Goshen County Ministerial Organization coordinates volunteers and sponsorships for the
“We are continuing to look for sponsors,” Borger said. “Each event costs about $2,000. For each (food distribution) to take place, we need organizations to step forward and pay for it. Then the food bank puts out a card with the sponsors listed.”
While Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies provides snacks, like crackers, chips and cookies, the $2,000 goes to pay for protein and fresh vegetables for each family.
“The things we want to make sure everyone goes home with is what we’re buying,” Borger said.
Monday’s event is covered, but in order to schedule food banks in the future, the organization needs to secure more sponsors.
To contact Borger, call or text (307) 316-2309. Residents who require monetary assistance through the Salvation Army should call Torrington Dispatch at (307) 532-7001.