Student volunteers assisting with moving boxes of food from a food drive at ECHO’s warehouse.

A total of 48 students participated in the ECHO Youth Leadership Program, which was called a great success by leaders. The students served a total of 2,083 hours in June and July of 2020 and helped to distribute food, sort donations and contribute to the general running of the center.

“We are hoping to run a form of the Youth Leadership Program during the summer of 2021 but are not sure yet what it will look like,” said Savanna Thompson, development coordinator. “Because our normal volunteers are back serving with us once again, our need for the program is not as high, but we honestly had so much fun with the students and it was so good to introduce students to the great need in the community. So, we will likely have some form of the program, but are not sure what it will look like quite yet.”

Visit for more information.

Original story printed June 2020.

Students ages 15 to 21 who have an interest in developing leadership skills through serving their community will get an opportunity to accomplish that this summer with ECHO’s (Emergency Care Help Organization) new Youth Leadership Program.

This nine-week program will begin on Monday, June 1 and end on Friday, July 31, offering students the chance to earn community service hours and learn about poverty.

During the quarantine months, ECHO shifted to an emergency food distribution plan in order to cater to the needs of the community while following social distancing recommendations. The Youth Leadership Program was born in an effort to expose new volunteers to ECHO.

According to ECHO’s executive director, Eleanor Saunders, this summer season will likely be very busy for ECHO, which offers a wide variety of assistance and resources to people residing in Hillsborough County who suffered from a recent emergency.

The 75 students in this program will commit to one day a week from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Several trainings will be provided to teach students about core issues and lessons on generational poverty, what causes it, what ECHO does and more. Students will also work on team projects, assist with running the Back to School Community Bash and participate in a team fundraising competition.

Visit ECHO is located at 507 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon. Call 685-0935 to learn more.

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Tatiana Ortiz
Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.