ECHO Playground Celebration


On Saturday, January 31, ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization, celebrated the opening of their new playground. Atascadero Kiwanis raised $23,500 to pay for the playground and Doug Lapp, Central Coast Park and Recreation Company, donated his time to design and install the equipment. The playground is designed for children 2 to 5 years old and consists of swings, a climbing structure and a bright yellow duck mounted on a steel spring. “We are so thankful for the Kiwanis, Doug Lapp and all the other volunteers who made this possible,” said Charlotte Byrne, ECHO board member and longtime volunteer. “At ECHO, we strive to make the atmosphere as pleasant and nurturing as possible for the children. This playground allows them to have some quality time with their parents. “ According to Executive Director Bill Watt, the face of homelessness includes children. “Right now we have 18 children at ECHO. On a regular basis we have families with babies to teenagers, and they come from all over North County.”

Terri Sherwin, ECHO board member and fundraising volunteer said that the playground would not have happened without the Kiwanis donation. “Our fundraising committee has to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate ECHO and make the services possible to get homeless individuals and families back home,” she said. “ Many people in the community believe that we receive most of our operating dollars from the government. That’s not true. We raise more than 75% of our budget from local donations large and small. We just don’t have the fundraising capacity to pay for a playground. So we are ecstatic that the Atascadero Kiwanis took this on.”

ECHO Playground Celebration

Landscaping Collaboration!

After two years of design and coordination, ECHO’s landscaping took root on Saturday, January 26, in Atascadero. Armed with shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows, more than 40 volunteers from Madrone Landscapes and Cal Poly planted 200+ trees, shrubs, and ground covers at ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization. ECHO is a 50-bed homeless shelter serving north San Luis Obispo County. “We have accomplished some major renovations at the shelter over the last few years and this landscaping is a part of that effort,” said Jim Patterson, ECHO Board President. “We especially appreciate Rick Mathews at Madrone Landscapes and Cal Poly Professor Christy O’Hara for helping make this happen.”

A few years ago, Professor O’Hara was looking for a community project for her Cal Poly landscape architecture students and ECHO was a good fit. “The students spent many hours studying the micro-climate surrounding the shelter to make smart planting choices that included many native varieties,” said O’Hara. “The students also felt strongly about creating an area with lots of shade trees that would be a quiet and peaceful place for people who come to ECHO.” The landscape design also incorporated a fruit orchard and vegetable garden. “With this much land in the plan, and it’s a homeless shelter that also provides food, it just made sense to include a fruit orchard and gardening beds,” O’Hara explained.

After the ECHO board of directors approved the Cal Poly design plan, Madrone Landscapes offered to help with the project. “A design plan this large has an extensive irrigation system,” said Jim Patterson. “Madrone employees donated their time to dig all the trenches and install the system. Much of the irrigation material was donated or discounted by Farm Supply Company. It was a big job and we’re very thankful.” Madrone Landscapes, Bay Laurel Nursery, West Covina Wholesale Nursery, Native Sons Wholesale Nursery and Growing Grounds Farm donated more than half of the 200 plants needed to implement the plan. Rossi Transport donated the planting mix.

Thank You Community Health Centers


We were thankful to be visited many times in 2014 by a mobile medical clinic provided by Community Health Centers. Carla Hurt, CHC’s physician’s assistant, treated those staying at the shelter, as well as anyone in the area who needed medical assistance. Read the rest of this entry »

We love our meal servers!

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Actually, we have a deep appreciation for all of our volunteers! ECHO would NOT exist or be able to operate without our wonderful network of volunteers. However, we always need more help. If you can give a couple of hours a week or month, it really makes a difference! Go to “Volunteer” on the top menu bar to learn about volunteer opportunities. Above is a photo of Atascadero Kiwanis during their tri-tip and fixings event at ECHO. Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Joy


Charlotte Byrne, ECHO board member and publicity/fundraising volunteer, takes a peek at the toys Santa left for children at ECHO.


Susan Bernhard distributes one of the gifts. Susan Bernhard and board member Terri Sherwin spent many hours organizing the effort. Many of the gifts were much needed for cold weather including hats, scarfs and clothing for the children. Read the rest of this entry »