“We are here to help our community and those in need,” says Richard Walker of the Here to Help Foundation of Wyoming.
“The Foundation’s heartbeat is to find ways to help,” says Nikki Walker, Richard’s wife and partner in the Foundation. Richard’s father, Stewart Walker, is the third member of the Foundation’s board of directors. Richard and Nikki also operate a for-profit business called Here to Help Home Care, providing non-medical in-home services across the Douglas area.
“Our main thing is the open box pantries around our communities and filling them with non-perishable items, baby products and hygiene needs that are free to anyone who might need them,” says Richard. Summer 2019 the Foundation installed its twelfth and thirteenth pantries. The twelfth installation, taking place in Hulett, Wyoming, is their pantry that is the furthest north.
Sponsoring the installation of a pantry is a $1,000 investment. “It takes $60 a week to keep them stocked,” says Richard. Beyond goods being purchased and placed in the boxes, which is a responsibility the Foundation carries, people can place items in the pantries.
“We had a young lady who utilized our pantries,” says Richard. “She found a job and a steady living. Instead of going and taking stuff out of our pantries, she goes and puts stuff in our pantries now. She came to us and told us that we helped her through some really tough times. It’s really awesome. We are making a difference.”
On multiple occasions the Foundation has stepped up to help Wyoming families in need. Nikki mentions a family that lost their home to a tornado, a young boy who was crushed by a cattle guard and medical emergencies faced by area families.
The Foundation also has a suicide awareness campaign called “Not An Option.” Richard explains, “We spread the simple message that suicide is not an option.” The name from Richard’s personal experience as a 14-year-old teenager who had just lost his mother and told his father that he was considering taking his own life. His father’s response: “That is not an option.”
Richard says, “We spread the simple message that suicide is not an option. There is always something else to do. There is someone out there to help you get a new job or get through whatever rough patch you are going through. 80% of Wyoming suicides are grown men my age. I think we can do more by spreading that simple message that suicide is not an option.” Richard adds, “People do care.”
The Walkers fund the Here to Help Foundation through donations and fundraisers. They recently hosted a chicken roping at the LB Bar in Douglas.
New this year the Foundation will be hosting the Douglas community’s annual Hunters BBQs. “It’s a great opportunity to connect with more people and raise some funds,” says Richard.
“It my family’s restaurant,” says Nikki of The Plains where the event is held. Of her opportunity to partner on the events she says, “It’s going to be very special. We are going to bring brand new freshness to it and do that collectively as a family. My dad, Charlie, always donates the food and the space and all of the work they put into it. We will donate getting everything ready for it and gifts we can bring to let the hunters know how much we appreciate having them in our community.”
As in years past the BBQs will be held on Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 in coordination with hunting seasons. Attendees can expect the wild game meal, fun and games for which the event is known, but also new ideas and energy.
“Richard and I love what we get to do,” says Nikki. “We are very grateful for those who jump on board and are part of the cause.” Those who wish to support the Here to Help Foundation of Wyoming can direct donations to PO Box 454, Douglas WY 82633.