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A Chance at ECHO: Tom and Jolie

ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization is a transitional shelter in Northern San Luis Obispo County that is helping families and individuals find permanent housing. ECHO is for people who are ready to make a change in their lives. People like Tom, Jolie, and their son.

Tom wandered into ECHO confused, hungry and tired.  Over lunch he talked about how he, his partner and their son were sleeping on friends’ couches after he lost his job over a year ago. Though he just took a job working for a landscaper, he had no food and no place to stay. 

The next day, his family moved into ECHO. Case management worked with Tom on a monthly budget and provided tools to save and spend wisely. Tom and Jolie ate dinner and breakfast every night at ECHO and packed lunches each morning so they would not spend any money on food.

They were careful not to spend unnecessarily and truly used the resources at ECHO to help save the most they could. ECHO connected Jolie with CAPSLO for daycare options for their son. Once they got him into a daycare, she began working part time at a store in Paso Robles.

Tom and Jolie saved $10,000 during their stay at ECHO.  Using the computer at the shelter, they began looking for a home to rent.  Soon, they moved into their own permanent and stable housing.

Tom talked about how he will be forever grateful for that one afternoon when he wandered on to the ECHO campus and realized that if he wanted to, ECHO could provide him with the stability and support he needed to make a positive change in his life.

ECHO gave Tom and Jolie a second chance and their story is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.


Success Story: Julie and ECHO

ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization is a transitional shelter in Northern San Luis Obispo County that is helping families and individuals find permanent housing. ECHO is for people who are ready to make a change in their lives. People like Julie.

Julie and her daughters moved into ECHO at the end of March. ECHO Case Managers helped Julie apply for a Housing Choice Voucher through HASLO. Julie also worked with a financial counselor from her church to create a plan for paying off debt and budgeting for her future.

Since Julie was recently sober, she enrolled in a Drug/Alcohol program and began taking classes twice a week. With help from Department of Social Services she enrolled her daughters into daycare through CAPSLO head start program. She found employment through the DSS work program called Welfare to Work and began working immediately part time. After she completed the program she secured full time work.

ECHO helped Julie transition temporarily into Anna’s House. This was a great place for her because she was living with other women in similar circumstances and had use of the kitchen, had her own room and bathroom with her girls, and had a great support system from other women living at the house.

ECHO Case Managers continued to check in with her during her 2 months at Anna’s home and helped her fill out applications for various apartments that would accept her voucher. She found housing at the end of October and moved into her new apartment on November 1st.

ECHO gave Julie and her girls a second chance and his story is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.


Charlie and Greg: Success at CASA

Did you know there are over 500 kids in our county who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and need a Court Appointed Special Advocate? CASA advocates make recommendations to the court, based on the best interest of the children.

Let us share with you what that looks like for a child in our community. CASA volunteer Greg has been advocating for Charlie, a 17-year-old. Charlie’s mother is deceased and he has had no contact with his biological father and very limited contact with other relatives.

Charlie has been in 7 foster homes in the past 5 years. His autism diagnosis has added more complexity to his case. Transition is hard enough for any child, but for youth with autism, it’s monumental. Greg has made these foster home transitions much easier by being a stable, consistent and caring presence for Charlie.

Greg spends quality time with Charlie and takes him into the community every week, helping him feel more comfortable in new situations. They go bowling, to the archery range, play board games, go shopping, and play at the park. Greg has also been instrumental in keeping Charlie connected with some of his extended family members. Greg also holds the Educational Rights for Charlie. He attends all of the educational meetings to advocate for his best interests and is in regular contact with his teachers.

As Charlie gets closer to graduating high school, Greg is starting to focus his efforts on ensuring that Charlie receives services to help him gain needed independent living skills.

This is just one example of lives positively affected by a CASA volunteer advocate.


Ella: Boys and Girls Club Success Story

The Boys & Girls Club provides educational support, dropout prevention, and guidance. They are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. There are children in our community that without the Boys and Girls Club, would have no place to go after school.  Kids like Ella.

Ella is someone who lights up an entire room with her sweet smile. She joined the Boys and Girls Club in the summer, was bubbly and very easily made friends. Ella looked forward to continuing at the Club during the school year, knowing many who would return.

But the transition from summer to school year was not as smooth as she thought.  Ella had trouble making friends with the new kids.  Soon, she became distant and didn’t want to participate in any of the activities. Staff decided it was time to step in.  They paired Ella up with another member, giving them small activities to help them get to know each other.

This was all Ella needed.  Slowly, she started to talk to other members. Before they knew it, Ella was herself again.  Running and playing with other kids. Ella is a prime examples of what the Boys and Girls Club strives to do. Support, engage, improve and impact children’s lives. 




Success Story: CASA

Did you know there are over 490 kids in our county who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and need a Court Appointed Special Advocate? CASA advocates make recommendations to the court, based on the best interest of the children. Let us share with you what that looks like for a child in our community.

CASA volunteer, Pam, is advocating for a one-year old who was born to a former foster youth. This young mother is now an adult who has overcome some of the most extreme circumstances in her short life. And now, she has a baby of her own. Along with advocating for the one-year old, Pam is also a positive role model for this young mother.

Pam takes the mom and toddler to their medical appointments, the park, the zoo and other outings. The mother trusts Pam implicitly and this is the basis for their relationship. Pam is kind, non-judgmental, and patient. She sees the positives in the mother, and provides an extra pair of eyes for the court.

Pam is instrumental in breaking the cycle of abuse for this family.

This is just one example of lives positively affected by a CASA volunteer advocate.


Success Story: ECHO

ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization is a transitional shelter in Northern San Luis Obispo County that is helping families and individuals find permanent housing. ECHO is for people who are ready to make a change in their lives. People like Henry.

Henry was an engineer from Southern California. A couple of years ago, he started having trouble with his eyesight and was struggling at work. At the same time, his wife became sick and passed away. His world was shattered. He stopped caring about anything, including his bills. Soon, he lost his home and was living in his car.

After several months, he woke up one day sick and tired of being sick and tired. He knew his wife would want better for him and he vowed to make a change. First, he scheduled his eye surgery. Second, he researched homeless shelters and applied at ECHO.

During his stay at ECHO, Henry was focused on finding a job, willing to relocate to do so. He accepted a position in Davis and found a home to rent. Henry says being at ECHO is exactly what he needed to get back on his feet and the support of case managers helped make that possible.

ECHO gave Henry a second chance and his story is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.


Success Story: Boys and Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club provides educational support, dropout prevention, and guidance. They are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. There are children in our community that without the Boys and Girls Club, would have no place to go after school. Kids like Stephen.

Stephen has been attending the Boys and Girls Club since kindergarten. He had always been a ball of sunshine, but last year the staff saw a dramatic shift in Stephen’s behavior. It became rare for Stephen to have a good day.

Stephen was running away, lashing out at other club members, and openly defied staff direction. Finally, he was given one last chance. The Club developed a safe place plan for when Stephen started to feel overly stressed. This safe place not only provided a break from the stimulation, but also de-escalated situations early enough where Stephen began to recognize the triggers and could catch them early. He also was able to apologize for his missteps.

Stephen is now the number one helper behind the desk and his resilience is a source of pride for his family and his club. Stephen is a prime examples of what the Boys and Girls Club strives to do. Support, engage, improve and impact children’s lives.


Success Stories: CASA

Currently there are over 490 kids in our county’s court system who are waiting for a CASA volunteer advocate. These children deserve to have a voice in how decisions are made and most of the time it is the voice of the volunteer advocate who can make a huge difference in that child’s life.

Let us share with you what that looks like for children in our community.

CASA volunteers, Martin and Rose have been advocating on their cases for two years. Martin is advocating for 16-year old Joe and Rose is advocating for a 4-year old girl, named Wendy. Although these children differ in many ways, both were abused and neglected and suffered due to the mental illness of their mothers.

When Martin met Joe he was overweight, low self-esteem in additional to behavioral issues. Martin and Joe’s bond grew with trips to the gym, as he gained confidence in his new found strength.

Rose quickly identified that Wendy’s grandmother, who had custody could not navigate the child welfare system because of a language barrier. Rose became an advocate, not only for Wendy but also for her grandmother.

Today, both Joe and Wendy are adopted and living in loving and happy families.

These stories are proof positive that CASA volunteers can make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children.

* Names and details have been changed to protect identities


Success Story: Boys and Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club provides educational support, dropout prevention, and guidance. They are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. There are children in our community that without the Boys and Girls Club, would have no place to go after school.  Kids like Reagan and Mary.

Reagan and Mary are two girls in the Club’s 3rd grade class. They are identical twins who look and act identical. The two of them started attending the Boys and Girls Club about half way through the summer. They both seemed shy at first.

As they became more comfortable, they began yelling, running during class and talking out of turn. The staff noticed this abrupt change in behavior and began to be stricter with them guiding them on behavior while at the Club

Just as quickly as they became disruptive, they became gentler and more respectful. They now follow the rules and are both one of the top students in the class.

This is exactly what the Boys and Girls Club strives to do. Support, engage, improve and impact children’s lives.


ECHO Success Story: Nadine

Last year, must! charities launched a half-million dollar collaboration with ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization which is a transitional shelter. Every homeless person at ECHO has a unique situation. However, they all have something in common. The number one reason for becoming homeless is lack of affordable housing. ECHO is here to help.

Here to help people like Nadine.

Nadine was homeless for three years before arriving at ECHO. Being a domestic violence survivor, she had difficulty dealing with daily tasks and was anxious at night. She had been couch surfing with her children because she was not able to afford her own place to live.

Upon her entrance interview at ECHO, it was decided that she would focus on her mental health and recovery. With guidance from ECHO case managers, Nadine sought help from Transitions Mental Health Association and Community Counseling Center in SLO. She also completed an orientation with the Department of Rehabilitation for career counseling.

After a few months at ECHO, Nadine was approved for subsidized housing and found a small apartment in SLO. She is currently working on starting her own business.

When asked about her experience at ECHO she said, “Staff treated me with respect. They believed in me and cared. My case managers were always there to listen to and provide me with encouragement.”

This is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.