TORRINGTON, Wyo. — Adopt a Senior is coming to Torrington in a different way than you might expect.

This particular program isn’t for high school graduates, rather it’s for residents at Goshen Healthcare Community. From June 23-25, anyone can adopt a flamingo to support a resident at the facility. Each flamingo will have a laminated tag with the name of a specific resident and a list of small items that resident likes. Those who adopt the flamingo are asked to transplant them to their own homes, and bring back a care package for their resident June 26.

Chico De Los Santos, director of social services and recreation for the facility, said the idea came from his daughter, a junior in high school. The family saw an Adopt a Senior program on Facebook and decided to participate. When Emily De Los Santos saw the list of things the senior liked, she was surprised. Turns out, she wasn’t thinking high school senior, but her thought was they were adopting a senior citizen.

“So that’s how the idea came to be,” De Los Santos said. “We’re like, ‘Oh, lets do that!’ That’s one way we can connect to the community with our residents.”

For the residents, the flamingo adoption is a needed distraction as the facility has been shut down to visitors since March due to concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19. De Los Santos said the flamingo project is the next phase of reconnecting residents with the community. They started with connections to family and friends through iPads using Facebook, Zoom and FaceTime.

The next phase was connecting the residents spiritually by setting up meetings with their pastors for window visits and online church offerings.

The flamingo project is the next stage to encourage the residents of the facility. Seeing support from the community will help. De Los Santos said he hopes that once restrictions are lifted that those who pick up a flamingo and deliver a care package will come back to meet their adopted senior.

“We’re hoping that they can do that soon,” De Los Santos said. “This is a very stressful time for everyone, it really is.”

Throughout the lockdown, De Los Santos said the residents have been adapting well, and the facility has done different projects to help with their social needs.

“This is just another way we can reach out, just to meet the psych-social needs,” he said. “We also have had people come in from the community to do horse visits. They go to each window. Each resident has a window in their room, so we’ve done horse visits. We’ve done goat visits.”

Coming up Saturday, participants in a classic car poker run will drive slowly through the parking lot for the residents to see the cars.

The different activities are a benefit to the residents as they wait for the day when the lockdown can be lifted, De Los Santos said.

“The know that this is going to end, hopefully soon, but it will end at some point,” he said. “It’s hope is all it is.”

GHC is installing Plexiglas in one outside area where residents will be able to see loved ones face-to-face while still being protected.

The staff has added some fun for the normal routine, including changing activities from what may have been a group activity in the past to a program where residents gather at their doorways in the hallway for exercise. Bingo is now hallway bingo.

Serving carts have been modified with cardboard cutouts to look like a taco truck or an ice cream truck on any given day. The ice cream truck includes music as the staff goes down the hall with their cart.

“As a facility, we’ve adjusted really, really well,” De Los Santos said. “Our staff understands the importance of keeping our residents safe, and they’ve remained positive during this whole time.”

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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