ATASCADERO — On Saturday, Sept. 19, El Camino Homeless Organization residents and staff will march from the ECHO campus to Atascadero’s landmark Rotunda Building in the Sunken Gardens and back to celebrate ECHO’s 9th Annual Long Walk Home homeless awareness event.

According to organizers, the march represents the walk that people facing homelessness make every day in their search for permanent housing. Supporters of ECHO can sponsor a resident individual or family and a staff member for the walk and order barbecue tickets on ECHO’s website at www.echoshelter.org/long-walk-home.

In addition to the awareness march, ECHO is hosting a drive-thru barbecue meal provided by the Atascadero Bible Church team lead by Mark Miranda immediately after the march. Tickets for meals are available online at www.echoshelter.org/long-walk-home and are $25 per person. The to-go meal will include the team’s famous barbecued chicken, beans, rice pilaf, garlic bread, salad and a dessert.

The meals will be available for pick up in a drive-thru line at the ECHO campus from Noon to 3 p.m. at 6370 Atascadero Ave., Atascadero. This is a great event for individuals, families and teams to provide a lunch or dinner for their family or group and show their support of ECHO and the community. All meals will come with a free ECHO Long Walk Home T-shirt.

The ECHO shelter operates as 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, ECHO 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 learn life skills for employment, budgeting, healthier habits and more. 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. More than 60% of people entering the program find permanent housing.

 A force of 1,500 community volunteers provides ancillary support to run the shelter program and the 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 with all the necessary toiletries and offers access to clothing, shoes, blankets, sleeping bags and school supplies for children. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles