Iris Turman was recognized by Lightning Foundation for her hard work at ECHO of Brandon. (Photo credit: ECHO Brandon.)

One of the driving forces behind ECHO of Brandon was recently recognized for her hard work with the program, as Iris Thurman was named a Lightning Community Hero by the Lightning Foundation. As the 524th Lightning Community Hero, Thurman was presented with a $50,000 donation that will be directed to ECHO, which will be instrumental in helping ECHO continue its mission.

To say Thurman is deserving of this recognition is an understatement since she has developed ECHO’s advocacy department into having multiple full-time staff as well as interns, and she has gone on to lead the department as well. In all avenues of life it seems, Thurman always rises to the top, as she was the first to graduate college in her family and raised four children as a single parent.

There are further plans to expand the advocacy department in the future as well, which will be greatly aided by the donation from the Lightning Foundation. This grant will directly contribute to allowing ECHO to employ a full-time homeless advocate and supply 20 shelter vouchers.

ECHO of Brandon exists to provide aid and assistance to residents of Hillsborough County who are experiencing food insecurity as well as general instability and crisis within their lives. ECHO provides this help through emergency food and clothing, along with offering a variety of ‘Life Rebuilding’ programs, such as employment services and financial counseling. Throughout the year, it offers workshops for budgeting, sewing, couponing, starting a business, selling online and more.

ECHO was founded in 1987 as a central place where those in need of help could go, and over the last 30 odd years it has provided countless individuals and families with the resources they needed. What started as a group of volunteers working out of a firehouse has become a permanent fixture within the Brandon community, consistently providing a ray of hope in dark times.

With this donation and the leadership of Thurman and the others involved, ECHO will continue to serve the community for years to come. If you would like to volunteer, there are multiple areas available: food pantry, clothing room, ECHO Thrift Store, welcome center, truck driver, ECHO Handmade artisan, community garden, handyman, advocacy care, back-to-work job coach and workshop facilitator.

For more information about ECHO, its services, volunteer opportunities or to donate, please visit its website at or call 813-685-0835. ECHO of Brandon is located at 507 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon.

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