ATASCADERO – El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) is in urgent need of volunteers for each of its facilities. As ECHO celebrates 20 years (2001-2021), a wave of expansion to meet the needs of homelessness in North County has led to increased demand for volunteers. Now operating three facilities in Atascadero and Paso Robles, the bed capacity has nearly tripled from the original ECHO shelter in Atascadero, which housed 50 individuals. ECHO Atascadero now houses 60 individuals admitted to a core three-month case management program. ECHO Paso Robles, located in the former Motel 6 on Black Oak Drive, houses 60 individuals seeking emergency shelter, and ECHO Winter Emergency Shelter operates at Atascadero Community Church from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 each year and houses 20 individuals seeking emergency shelter during the winter months.

A variety of positions are open to being filled, with most requiring just a few hours a week. Nightly check-in of residents, providing to-go style meals, serving dinner, and monitoring a shower program is only a few of the positions open. Volunteers can choose what feels most comfortable, whether that be direct interaction with others or ancillary support roles. The most urgent need is overnight chaperones at the ECHO Atascadero shelter, which requires an overnight stay for a team of two. Many couples have found this position extremely rewarding and choose to volunteer in this role once a month.

Volunteering at ECHO is a safe and extremely rewarding experience that allows volunteers to immediately see the impact their service has on others’ lives. 

“Our volunteers are core to the success of our mission to end homelessness in our community,” states Wendy Lewis, President/CEO of ECHO, “Volunteers come to us with the desire to give back to the community and are surprised at just how rewarding it is. Many of them tend to form life-long friendships with other volunteers and typically become regulars in a variety of volunteer positions.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

ECHO operates three safe and secure overnight shelters in Atascadero and Paso Robles to meet families’ immediate needs and individuals who have become homeless. With ECHO Atascadero’s 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 provides ancillary support to run the facilities and meal programs at each location serving over 100 meals each evening to shelter residents and the homeless population.

For more information and to sign up, please visit our website at echoshelter.org/volunteer. Specific requests or questions regarding volunteering for ECHO can be directed to ECHO’s Volunteer Coordinators: 

ECHO Paso Robles – Pearl Herrera at (805)538-3947 or pherrera@echoshelter.org

ECHO Atascadero – Raychel Nowak at (805)539-7858 or Rnowak@echoshelter.org

ECHO Emergency Winter Shelter in Atascadero, Jenn Banko at (805)792-2536 or jbanko@echoshelter.org