Ron Snell with a few of his honors.
Photo by Nikolas Knapp
Board member Scott Olesky and wife Michelle.
Connection Homeless Shelter Director Ron Snell was honored Thursday for 12 years of work and major achievements, such as making a new homeless shelter possible.
A new director, Roy Lawton, will start the job on June 4. Snell will observe and help for 30 days “from the sidelines”.
The board of directors at the shelter held an open house from 5-7 p.m. for Snell.
Snell became the Connection director in October 2000 when the shelter was in an old building on Jeffers St./U.S. Highway 83.
Ground was broken in 2008. By that time, the fund drive had benefitted from nearly 450 donors, including children who dipped into piggy banks as well as businesses, churches, groups and individuals that contributed $1,000 or more.
Another $400,000 of the cost will be paid by the Peter Kiewit Foundation and the North Platte Community Redevelopment Authority.
Ten years after Snell arrived and after six years of fundraising and preparations, the new shelter opened at 414 E. Sixth St. Many people came to support Snell and credit him for everything he has done to establish the new shelter.
Jim Nelson, the president of the board of directors, started the celebration. Then Snell spoke to the large crowd.
Snell thanked everyone for coming. He thanked everyone who helped raise funds to build the $1.3 million shelter, which opened in 2010. He said it was difficult to talk about his work as something in the past, because he was accustomed to working there every day.
He talked of his fundraising exercises, including a walk around the state with his wife, Tammy, a raft ride from border-to-border down the Platte River, and a bike ride around the state.
He thought the raft trip would take 10 days, but it took 13. He met the challenges one by one. He said people who come to the shelter have also met a challenge, and taken an important step.
“Every person that comes here takes a step closer to success,” he said.
Snell said the biggest challenge of the job has been helping people make decisions -- to decide to get a job, set goals and achieve them. That means communicating with people in a fundamental way.
“What happens at the shelter -- is helping people at where they are,” Snell said.
He said it can be a thankless job. A client asked him if people contact the shelter after they leave.
“Hardly ever,” he said.
Snell received two plaques for his achievements, with pictures of him in action. He also received a collection of letters and pictures from staff members. Employees who worked with Snell spoke highly of him.
Don Snook cooks breakfasts at the shelter and supervises the morning cleaning, which is done by the residents.
“He’s a very wise man,” Snook said.
“I’ve worked with Ron for three and a half years and he’s wonderful because he make the job at the thrift store very interesting,” said Angie Lindsey, who works next door.
“He’s a good worker,” said Lindsey’s coworker Joan Hauser.
Snell hasn’t decided yet what he will do after he leaves. He said he is in the process of making a gradual decision about where his life.
He received hugs from co-workers, friends and supporters.