Center of Hope staff stresses need for unity at re-dedicationAug 16, 2015 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
Volunteers of America-Northern Rockies held a re-dedication ceremony July 27 at the Center of Hope. The event honored clients, staff and community members after a July 18 shooting incident in which a man entered the facility and shot two men, killing one.
"Today is a day we start new and start fresh," clinical division director Kelly Buckingham said.
Families, staff, tribal officials and city staff were invited to the event.
The facility had been closed after the shooting, but it reopened July 27. The Riverton Police Department had temporarily housed clients in juvenile holding cells while others went to the Fremont County Good Samaritan shelter in Riverton.
Staff at other VOA facilities wore red clothing July 27 so everyone could "stand together" with the Center of Hope, Buckingham said.
Many who attended the ceremony wore shirts that read "United by Hope" on the back.
"It represents the human side," Buckingham said.
Pastors from the community and a tribal elder provided prayers and cedaring.
VOA executive vice president for operations Heath Steel stressed that the center and staff had a responsibility to help people in need. He said the VOA was returning now with "a lot of work to do."
"We've got to realize we're working with a disease here," he said. "We've got to stand together."
He told staff he was proud of them and thanked the Northern Arapaho Business Council, the Wind River Hotel and Casino, RPD and city staff.
RPD chief Mike Broadhead said the community should only be judged by the way it responds and treats people living with diseases such as alcoholism.
"There are people living with a tragedy every day," he said.