Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Justin and Mya Boren, the married couple behind the Cupboard of Sweetwater County. The Cupboard of Sweetwater County is a Facebook group where people can reach out for help from their fellow community members.
Mya said she got the idea to start the Cupboard of Sweetwater County when the panic buying took place at the start of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. From there, it has continued to grow and blossom as a great resource for the residents of Sweetwater County.
Justin and Mya have lived in Rock Springs for 15 years and are raising their family here. They love Sweetwater County and Wyoming and they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Justin and Mya, why did you start the Cupboard of Sweetwater County?
Mya: Following the first COVID shutdown back in March of 2020 there had been a lot of panic buying, shelves were empty, and overall morale in the community was down. I practice meditation almost daily and following a meditation the idea just popped into my head that there should be a page where a person could borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor and that we as a community are rich in resources even during times of scarcity. The page blew up. The idea for the page may have been inspired through me, but the growth and overall vision of the page is that of my husband, Justin Boren. It is his dedication along with the amazing community of compassionate people of the page that help keep the page going. It is a big job. Shout out to Sonya Gallegos, Monica Stephens, just to name a couple, and that is definitely not all who have contributed greatly to the page and our community.
Justin: Mya started it to give people a place to provide for each other during the time people were hoarding during the beginning of COVID. She was disturbed at the lack of resources and wanted people to have a place to work together to help each other rather than selfishly hoard supplies.
How would you describe the experience of running the Facebook page?
Mya: This is Justin’s domain for sure.
Justin: It’s been great. I have gotten to see so many people in our community grow. I’ve gotten to know people from all backgrounds of our community. I’ve been able to witness so many selfless acts performed by everyone from the hardest people in our community to the gentlest. There are so many giving people that truly love their neighbors. It’s been a joy, although at times it has also been slightly overwhelming. We can’t do this thing alone, and there are so many people and businesses in our community that contribute to the cupboard. I wouldn’t say I run it, it kind of runs me.
What do you do for a living?
Mya: I work part-time for Southwest Counseling Services as a Certified Peer Specialist, and at Soul Wellness Studio as a Yoga Instructor, Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach and Energy Healer through the modality of acupressure.
Justin: I am a quality control manager at Messco.
What do you enjoy most about your jobs?
Mya: I am a person with a lived experience of trauma and specifically the symptoms related to trauma like depression, anxiety, dissociation and suicidal thinking. My mess became my message as they say, and as I healed emotional and psychological wounds I found work as a Peer Specialist which is basically a person who mentors and supports others with relatable experiences. To me there is no separation between all the hats that I wear because in every capacity I am working in the realm of healing. I am equally passionate about mental health as well as spiritual health because each brought me back to life. I enjoy the work of supporting people as they navigate many pathways to wellness and recovery.
Justin: I really enjoy the people I work with. They are like a second family to me.
How did you end up in Rock Springs?
Mya: We live in Rock Springs but my roots go back to Green River. Ironically when I was going to Massage Therapy School in Salt Lake City, Utah, I lived there and Justin was from SLC but lived in Green River when we met. I came home for a weekend and went to a friend’s birthday party where I met Justin— he was only there because his friend drug him along. It was fate. We were married and expecting a kid within a year. I moved back to Green River and we have remained in Sweetwater County ever since, but have lived in Rick Springs for 15 of the 16 years.
Justin: Mya was raised in Wyoming and her family has been in Wyoming for about five generations, I believe. I was raised in Salt Lake. I had some wild teen years, and found myself learning to be a welder in Montana, during the last gas boom. I found work in Rock Springs, and the place grew on me. I met a local girl (Mya) and she proceeded to try to tame me and get me housebroken. I am maybe about a fourth of the way there.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
Mya: That we are a resilient bunch and when it comes down to it, I have yet to truly find myself without help, connection or care.
Justin: The list is long, but I think I probably appreciate our community’s dedication to take care of each other the most.
What are some of your hobbies?
Mya: Dancing, yoga, hiking, kayaking, camping writing, singing, furniture restoration, watercolor painting, long conversations about life, meaning and purpose.
Justin: I ice fish, hunt, hike, and mountain bike. Basically, if it’s outside, I like it.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Mya: Developing a loving relationship towards yourself is the most important and profound relationship you will ever have; not only is it important, it is necessary for any and all healing.
Justin: Someone way more important than me said “being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.”
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
Mya: I love Soul Wellness Studio because it is a sanctuary for me. I leave that place always feeling like something was added, not taken. I also love the beautiful desert that surrounds us. We live in an enchanting place.
Justin: There are so many great spots. If I had to pick one favorite, it would be the Gorge.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Mya: Kate Winslet. She is smart, confident, passionate, complicated and genuine.
Justin: Probably Johnny Depp because he’s a good actor and he’s weird.
What would you sing at karaoke?
Mya: I love to sing All That Jazz, but lately have been digging ‘Cuz I Love You by Lizzo. I like to sing from the top of my lungs.
Justin: I like to sing Prince, Elton John, and The Doors when I go to karaoke.
How would your friends describe you?
Mya: My friends would say that I’m supportive, encouraging, and a bit of a goof. I think for the most part they would say I’m a decent friend.
Justin: They would probably say I joke around too much.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Mya: A triumphant comeback to life after seriously contemplating ending my life. My triumph was not achieved all on my own. My husband Justin Boren saw me through many years of darkness and loved me unconditionally until I could do it for myself.
Justin: I’m happy, but not overly proud of anything. I’m proud to be part of something bigger than myself I guess. The truth is, I’m a pretty average guy. I’ve never done anything overly extraordinary.
What is something unique about you?
Mya: I was charged by a grizzly bear when I worked in Yellowstone National Park as a teen.
Justin: I like to read poetry and philosophy. I play the harmonica and love bunnies.
Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?
Mya: I love Wyoming. I love it for the people, the wide open spaces, the wildlife, nature and all the public access. It’s intriguing and full of surprises. I feel truly blessed to call Wyoming my home.
Justin: I live in Wyoming because I love the outdoors. I like the low population density and all the access to public land. I like the people, and the history. It’s the perfect state for a guy like me.