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Working together: El Camino Homeless Organization receives new windows with help from Paso Robles Glass 

Paso Robles Glass collaborated with local businesses and the Atascadero Rotary to donate and install about 20 new windows at the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) shelter in Atascadero.

Jarred Damigos, president of Paso Robles Glass, said replacing the existing windows with dual pane means better energy efficiency for the shelter because they help block the heat and cold. 

“Basically it’s going to mean that for whoever is in the shelter it’ll be more comfortable for them and it’s going to save the cost on ECHO when using the heater or air conditioner,” he said. 

click to enlarge MAKEOVER:  ECHO provides shelter and meals to those in the community who are in need. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBIN SMITH MARKETING AND FUNDRAISING
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBIN SMITH MARKETING AND FUNDRAISING
  • MAKEOVER: ECHO provides shelter and meals to those in the community who are in need.

Damigos decided to get involved with this project after ECHO contacted sales representative Don Vert to see how much it would cost for new windows. 

The number of windows that needed replacement pushed the price higher than ECHO had anticipated. Vert suggested that he and Damigos figure out a way to help the organization with the cost, and it got Damigos thinking.

“I’m thinking North County loyalty and what we are as a small business,” he said. “Six years ago we were nothing and now we’ve grown so fast and that’s mainly because of North County loyalty and people wanting to shop local.” 

Damigos quickly worked with Vert to reach out to other vendors that might be interested in giving to the cause. Milgard Windows, Vinyl Visions, and D.M. Figley have donated materials for the project. Not all businesses could give a full donation, so the Atascadero Rotary stepped in and paid the remaining balance. 

Installation of the windows will take place Nov. 17 and is estimated to take about a day to complete. With this project Damigos hopes that other local business will take the opportunity to think about how they can give back to their communities. 

“We’ll make a better environment and a better North County, we’re all here and we should all give back,” he said. 

Jim Patterson president of the ECHO board said that when the church where the shelter operates was purchased, the windows were single-paned and leaked. Patterson said this donation is not only going to help save ECHO money in the long run, it’s also going to create a more comfortable stay for their clients. This donation continues the recent upgrades that ECHO is doing such as going from 30 to 50 beds for individuals and families.

What started as just a meal plan to feed the homeless has expanded to provide shelter and a program working toward permanent housing for those in need. ECHO began in 2001 by volunteers serving the homeless a meal a day. The program didn’t have a home of its own; volunteers would travel to different churches in the area every month. Not only did volunteers see the need for a permanent facility but they also realized the people they were serving needed overnight shelter.

“The people they were feeding were on the streets and had no place to go,” Patterson said.

Wherever the program was serving meals, volunteers also started setting up cots for overnight shelter. The need for a permanent facility was met when the organization found a church in Atascadero that they leased in 2009 for boarding and office space. In 2013, ECHO purchased the church and converted it into a shelter. 

ECHO strives to work with willing individuals and families to find permanent housing in a three-month program. It begins with giving the clients a safe and comfortable environment. Within five days of starting the program clients are assigned a case manager and resources are provided to help them with their individual needs. The client is placed in support programs and assisted with employment, transportation, and clothing.

Seventy percent of ECHO clients have successfully gone through the program, Patterson said, and found permanent housing within the three-month timeline.

Patterson said with staff and dedicated volunteers, this is a community working together and helping one another. For more information about ECHO, visit echoshelter.net

Fast Fact

The Pavilion on the Lake’s 11th annual Holiday Boutique will have 55 vendors for a craft show Nov. 19 at 9315 Pismo Ave. in Atascadero. The holiday boutique is free to attend and will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send story ideas to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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