By Anika Shah
“This past year has been one of great change and growth for ECHO,” said Director Eleanor Saunders.
The local charity added two full-time advocates to its team.
“An ECHO advocate is a cross between a social worker and a life coach,” she explained. “They help our neighbors secure affordable housing, financial assistance and connect them with a variety of community supports and programs.”
ECHO also expanded its Riverview outreach center to include an on-site job coach, advocate and an ESL class, and the new thrift store exceeded all first-year expectations.
“We were recognized as a Best in the Bay for our category,” said Saunders. “The support from the community has been strong and 100 percent of the net proceeds from the store support our emergency food/clothing, advocacy and back-to-work programs.”
Original Story Printed July 2021.
ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization) opened a new Opportunity Center at its Riverview branch on June 17. The center will provide job coaching, GED help in English and Spanish, financial workshops and one-on-one tutoring for locals in crisis.
Dianne Horncastle, Opportunity Center director, spoke about the center’s mission. “We are looking to help people stabilize, however needed,” she said.
The center helps those displaced in the job market due to education level, technological limitations or the COVID-19 pandemic through multiple facets of the employment process.
“When someone puts their resume online, sometimes it can feel like it’s going into a black hole,” said Horncastle. “It kind of is, because getting a job can be difficult.”
The Opportunity Center seeks to help people in the community apply for a job through resume building, online job applications and back-to-work seminars. The group also helps people hone their skills with credit, taxes and even sewing workshops.
Additionally, a new internship program is being started to connect individuals with local businesses in the area looking to hire.
The organization is run entirely by volunteers like teachers, lawyers and HR managers that use their various skill sets to teach classes on topics ranging from finance to social media marketing. The center is also sponsored by Bank of America, which not only provides funding but also hosts workshops, such as mock interviews, and offers a pathway to work at the company itself.
This is ECHO’s second opportunity center, after the Brandon location on Parsons Ave., and comes in addition to many other programs offered, including a food pantry and thrift shop.
ECHO is always looking for more volunteers for job coaching as well as donations for the food pantry and thrift shop.
If you are interested in the programs, please email Horncastle at firstname.lastname@example.org, contact her at 540-9880 or connect on Facebook @ECHOBrandon. ECHO of Riverview is located on 7807 Capitano St. and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.