Diane Gatto was appointed as the Director of First Call for Help/211 in Cleveland. This is a United Way critical program for the community that is often forgotten because it works so effectively. They offer essential referral help to those looking for food, shelter, health care, job training or legal assistance. They regularly update treatment services available and they can provide for all the hotlines numbers (domestic violence, rape crisis, suicide prevention, and veteran's services) anytime. 211 operates 24 hours and they have a fantastic website that is regularly updated. All the information that they provide is verified on a regular basis. Diane has been with the organization for years and knows everything about running a telephone referral system. She has her finger on the pulse of the community and has a great understanding of the needs of those living in poverty. First Call for Help administers the referral system in many of the surrounding counties. They run Community Voice Mail and are co-coordinator of HousingCleveland.org. They don't get enough credit for all they serve and all they do for this community. They do a good job and do not create waves and have never been involved in a scandal. They stay under the radar, but provide one of the most important services for so many people. Diane takes over for the long time director Steve Wertheim who left in June.
Ron Register took a leadership position at 2100 Lakeside Shelter after a year stabilizing St. Herman's shelter. Register will oversee programming at the largest shelter in Ohio. He has previously worked with the veterans at the shelter and now will take a broader approach to the shelter. He attended the last Resident Council at the shelter and will take a lead in solving some of the issues homeless people have at the shelter. If there is going to be a solution to homelessness in Cleveland, 2100 Lakeside is a critical piece of the pie. It is going to take a stable and functioning entry shelter for men, before we can start thinking of solutions and solving some of the big problems in the community. The biggest festering issue in the community is where do sexually based offenders live in our community with all the fear, reporting, and stigma associated with them decades after they completed their incarceration?
Finally, we welcome Harriet Petti as the new Advocate for the ID Crisis Collaborative. Yes, this is a position in the community and is extremely important to low income residents of the County. There are thousands who just need that one piece of paper in order to get the healthcare, housing or a job that they need to move forward. Now, many need to even show ID in order to vote in person. Cleveland is one of the few communities in the country that focuses on this small obstacle that can open up doors. We talked in the last month about the new Social security rules that will harm low income people, and this staff will take on these and other issues. The state is regularly updating their rules, and the reality is that there is no one looking out for low income people when rules are changed in how a person gets their own birth certificate, state identification, or social security card. Ms. Petti worked for Goodwill, the Sewer District and volunteered with Hard Hatted Women. She will be working to figure out a way out of this Catch 22 of the social security print out and work to streamline the process so people can quickly restart their life after they lose all their important documents. We wish her luck.
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