Homelessness is a major issue in the United States and many organizations are trying to find effective ways to help. One of these organizations, New Life Evangelistic Center, has been working with homeless people for over 25 years and it wants to expand its services so that more can be helped. The community has supported their expansion efforts by raising money for them through various means such as donations or selling baked goods
The “homeless young adults ages 18-24” is a community that offers support to homeless youth. The community provides services such as food, shelter, and job opportunities. It also provides support groups for the homeless.
ECHO Shelter in Paso Robles Celebrates One Year
PASO ROBLES — After operating in Atascadero for over two decades, the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) inaugurated its first shelter in Paso Robles on Dec. 7, 2020. They successfully completed its first full year on Dec. 7, 2021, at the old Motel 6 at 1134 Black Oak Drive, despite all of COVID’s problems.
ECHO, which was founded 20 years ago, today runs three overnight shelters in Atascadero and one in Paso Robles. The Paso Robles facility, which is the first of its kind in the county, is a full-service shelter with numerous emergency shelter rooms, a food service program, and case management supporting services. Over 15,000 nights of lodging have been supplied this year, and over 600 men, women, and children have benefited from ECHO’s assistance.
While statistics like these are encouraging, Wendy Lewis, President and CEO of ECHO, adds, “We have to visit that individual and get to know them personally and their story.” Everyone’s experience is unique, but it’s an honor for our team and myself to be a part of someone’s return to housing and to be able to assist them along the path.”
We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero
“It’s been very fascinating to observe from an organizational aspect how the work we do is benefiting a community and impacting lives,” she says.
It’s no secret that for years, people have sought refuge in the Salinas Riverbed, which passes through Paso Robles. “Going into this project, we knew there was a lot of people housed in the riverbed, and we were wanting to connect with them to reach them and offer them their first access to these sorts of amenities in Paso Robles,” Lewis and her team said.
Some of the persons supported by the charity in its first year had been living in the riverbed for over 10 years, she says.
COVID has unavoidably contributed to many of its people seeking help. Some people have lost their houses or employment as a result of COVID in some form. “We find for the most part it’s situational,” Lewis says, “and something in their life has lead them to where they are now, and having the community and services like ECHO be there for them is the safety net they need to go back into housing and work.”
The facility, however, can only handle 45 people each night owing to COVID limitations and procedures, requiring them to turn away roughly 15 people each night. ECHO’s Atascadero site is the only other shelter Lewis and her crew can recommend guests to. They provide a residency program, bathing, daily meals, and an emergency winter shelter in Atascadero. The winter shelter will be available until the 31st of March.
Many milestones have been achieved in Paso’s first year:
The number of clients who have been housed is 47.
The number of clients that were employed was 50.
Clients enrolled in the 90-day program: 21
The total number of meals served was 18,595.
Showers in Numbers: 400
Lewis got complaints from the public via a community outreach poll about the shelter bringing in persons from outside the region seeking their services. She has discovered, however, that 80% of the individuals they assist identify as Paso Roblans.
“It’s people from all walks of life, from people who have worked their entire lives to an 18-year-old with a family tragedy and someone who has had a medical crisis, so it’s a combination of these different things that leads someone to need help, but it’s people who people from Paso Robles grew up with, or their child might be in their child’s class.” “The individuals in their neighborhood are the ones that need help,” Lewis explains.
Brian is one such success tale. A soldier who served his nation but ended himself on the streets. He got accommodation via ECHO’s veteran’s aid partners after a brief stay with them. When his fans learned that he had few belongings, they banded together to give numerous things to help him begin his new life in his own house. He was grateful and optimistic about his fresh start in life, and he still is.
It’s because of the 1,500 community volunteers who assist administer the facilities and food programs at each site, which provide over 100 meals each evening to shelter residents and the homeless.
“At this critical juncture, we’d want to express our gratitude to the community for believing in our Paso Robles vision,” Lewis adds. “We’ve had so many contributors, companies, civic and religious groups join engaged that we’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.”
Several companies and individuals of the community in Atascadero support and believe in the work Lewis and her team are doing for the North County. Z Villages owners Mike and Max Zappas, for example, gave $11,000 on Monday, Jan. 24, which will go directly toward supporting ECHO’s goal.
SLO Motion Shoes in Templeton recently donated over $3,000 in shoes to help provide much-needed quality footwear to the homeless community. Another $5000 gift came in from the Central Coast Center for Spiritual Living, which will go toward the upkeep of the ECHO garden and other activities.
The team at ECHO is able to assist individuals in our community recover their footing and personal confidence because to these kind gifts, community support, and grants.
Please visit echoshelter.org for more information.
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