In light of recent Coronavirus (COVID 19) concerns, and following the California State directive that persons 65 and older shelter-in-place at home, ECHO has asked all volunteers 65 and over to serve in the limited capacity of only dropping off food and other essential items to the shelter.
This has resulted in a shortage of volunteers at the shelter as that population made up 40% of ECHO’s volunteer force. Most critically affected, the volunteer position of overnight chaperone is required for the shelter to remain open, and currently there is a shortage.
“ECHO is required by our Conditional Use Permit to have one overnight chaperone at the shelter for every 30 residents,” says Wendy Lewis, President/CEO of ECHO, “the shelter has capacity for 50 residents, so that would equate to two persons per night every night of the week. We are asking for help from the community so we can keep the shelter operational for people facing homelessness during this crisis.”
In addition, volunteer roles such as meal servers, greeters and campus monitors are needed for the nightly meal service.
ECHO is asking for any healthy adults 18-64 who wish to assist during this crisis to please sign up at the organization’s website www.echoshelter.org/volunteer where a description of each and every role is posted. Those that volunteer should know that additional cleaning, disinfecting and hand washing procedures have been implemented at the facility following specific guidelines for homeless organizations
released by the State of California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and the CDC. “We’re taking sensible steps to help protect our staff, volunteers and residents,” says Lewis, “This means social distancing in all areas of the shelter, observation and screening of residents for fever, cough or shortness of breath and proper handwashing requirements for all.”
Additional critical needs for the shelter during this crisis are: meals, snacks, cleaning supplies, masks & gloves, sleeping bags and new or gently used towels and monetary donations. If you would like to donate these items you can drop them off at the shelter during open hours M-F 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
ECHO operates a safe and secure overnight 50 bed shelter to meet the immediate needs of families and individuals who have become homeless. With a unique residency program, clients are provided case management services to assist them in securing a job and finding permanent and sustainable housing within three months of entering the shelter program. While enrolled in the program, clients are taught life skills for employment, budgeting, health care management and social communication and interaction. The goal and the result of this practical support is the empowerment of residents to move in a positive direction while assisting them in acquiring the skills and services they need to become self-sustaining, including secure housing.
A force of 1,500 community volunteers provide ancillary support to run the shelter program and a meal program that serves as many as 80 dinners each night to shelter residents and the homeless population. ECHO also operates a shower program that provides hot showers three nights a week to anyone in need. ECHO supplies the homeless population all the necessary toiletries and offers access to clothing, shoes, blankets and sleeping bags.
About El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)
ECHO’s mission since 2001 is to empower people in SLO County to make positive change by providing food, shelter, and supportive services. ECHO operates a 50-bed shelter, a daily community dinner program, and shower program for homeless individuals and families throughout San Luis Obispo County. For more information, please visit our website at www.echoshelter.org.