Ron Register Takes on Expanded Role at Largest Shelter in Ohio

By Jacob Gedetsis

“People here are no different than everyone else. We all might be one paycheck, or one crisis away from being homeless ourselves.” Mr. Ron Register said, “Sometimes people think it’s something the homeless population did that got them here. They need to realize that bad things happen to good people sometimes.”

Ron Register has recently been promoted to program director at Ohio’s largest shelter--2100 Lakeside. It is his responsibility, along with his staff of community organizers, to coordinate the use of the 365 beds available, and to provide programs that aid the men sleeping in those beds.  He also must oversee the overflow beds because the shelter is prohibited from turning any man who shows up asking for a bed inside.  This summer, the 2100 Lakeside shelter staff stepped in to help the women’s shelter in Cleveland with help in serving the overflowing number of families using the shelters. 

“We are in charge of developing plans for a set number of guys who might have some difficulties getting out of here. For example, there is one set of guys who might have had some issues with substance abuse. We try to put a plan together for those guys to get treatment.” Register said.

This is just one way that the shelter aids the men in the homeless community. Other services offered at the shelter include: GED programs, job training, 12-steps groups, and specialty groups that deal with stress or conflict management.

 Register originally got involved with the shelter through the furniture operation of the shelter. The shelter provides furniture to men who are setting up homes of their own. “I got involved with people working at the shelter that I knew, and they wanted me to come in and do some things…Getting involved with the furniture end of it, and supplying furniture for the guys that were moving out of the shelter--setting up their places is how I got started.” 

Register said, “My first reaction when I came to the shelter for the first was that anybody could end up in this situation, if you’re not careful…A number of people that I see and have met [at the shelter] are just like people I know.  They have a tough time, and some people are able to work through it with relatives and friends, and some people don’t have that kind of support network. I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the guys here and the guys that I know in everyday life.”

His goals for the shelter, reaches far beyond 2100 Lakeside Avenue. “I’m hoping that we continue to work with and send a message not just inside the shelter, but to the other people that work with these populations that they need the best that we have to offer. They are part of humanity, they are part of us.”

Register received a Master’s degree in Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis. While an employee of the shelter he spent several years “on loan” at St. Herman’s House of Hospitality. Register helped organize and serve the three hot meals offered there daily. He also helped to organize the 25 beds available at this near west side homeless shelter.  Register stepped in after the religious order running the shelter ran into a leadership crisis and the facility was in danger of closing. 

Copyright Street Chronicle October 2013 Cleveland Ohio.