Someone 2 Know; Pat Cashell

If you live in Washoe County, chances are you're familiar with the name Cashell. 

Not only Reno’s former mayor Bob - who held office for 12 years, but his son, Pat - who made a comeback after 20 years of drug addiction.

Today Pat Cashell runs the homeless shelter on Record Street…and that has sharpened his new focus as an advocate for mental health treatment.           

We join Cashell as he greets shelter clients who gather near the community garden outside the facilities.  There are some smiles and hugs - even in the grimmest of circumstances. But not long ago, under a bridge in Reno - Pat says all emotions were blotted out; “As long as I had my bag of drugs, I was okay, as long as I could numb myself from all those feelings of being homeless and not having a family anymore”.  He takes us there – and says the memories of sitting alone under the bridge are fading, but will never be completely gone.

Cashell says the vicious cycle of homelessness and addiction almost always begins with trauma - often in childhood - that leads to mental health problems; "… the stories I hear at the shelter, would make most people's skin crawl, what they’ve been through”.

Dad, Bob Cashell agrees; "It was a shame when they closed the state mental hospitals years ago, because that put a lot of people out on the streets".

That's a big reason the Reno city council, during Mayor Bob's tenure, worked so hard to have the homeless shelter built in downtown and the reason Rob Cashell Jr. donates money to support it now; "Whether its state government or federal government, you know the first place they start cutting funding is mental health areas,” says Rob

Because, for these men - for entire Cashell family - it's personal; they endured decades of trouble and arrests as Pat self-medicated with illegal drugs. The mug shots remain as proof.

"For him running a homeless shelter?” says Bob, “No, I thought he'd be living there".

It’s a whole new world now.  Today the men are gathered around a table, reminiscing and laughing about childhood memories.

For Pat Cashell, his daily struggle with anxiety and depression no longer has him turning to meth, but he says it helps him understand the pain his clients are in and the hoops they're asked to jump through.

“To go get their medications and to see a doctor or get insurance - or get across town,” says Pat “It’s easier for them to find their drug dealer than their doctor”.  Cashell says if funding was increased, there would be more case workers to do the necessary outreach.

You can see can see the admiration Rob now has for his brother. He believes what’s happening at the downtown shelters is some of the most important work being done in our city and says ALL Reno/Sparks residents should take a tour; “… and see the men, the women and the children that are in that shelter and to walk out of there and not have some compassion and some understanding ,” says Rob.

For Pat, there’s understanding and gratitude. He now has his family back and wants other to have the same opportunity to heal.


To take a tour of the men’s, women’s and family shelters in Reno, call Volunteers of America

Phone: (775) 322-7143

Address: 335 Record St, Reno, NV 89512