For members of the Calvert County community who have fallen on hard times, Project ECHO is there to lend a helping hand. The homeless shelter provides rooms and meals to thousands of people in need each year, giving them an opportunity to get back on their feet and change their lives for the better. The organization is currently preparing to host its annual fundraiser dinner, the Empty Bowl Supper. We caught up with Executive Director, Trisha Gipson, for this week’s Friday Focus.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).
A: Project ECHO is the homeless shelter of Calvert County that provides a safe, substance free environment for men, women and families for up to 90 days. In 2013, the ECHO House provided over 12,000 bed nights and served over 27,000 warm meals to those we serve in the community. The shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Keeping families together is our goal. Working with families or individuals who want to realign their lives and work towards their goals of employment and housing is exciting and often a learning curve for them. But seeing them take the leap to independence is a monumental outcome for all.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our biggest challenge is funding. We receive funding from the County Government, United Way designations, fundraising, individual giving and other sources. However, the population we serve is growing, the cost to keep the lights on is increasing and we still operate on the same budget as we did three years ago.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: The Empty Bowl Supper—Project ECHO’s signature annual fundraiser—is absolutely vital to the ongoing operations of the shelter. This year’s Empty Bowl Supper will be held on April 5, at St. John Vianney in Prince Frederick. Proceeds from the supper go directly to providing temporary emergency shelter to men, women and children in Calvert County.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: People can simply call 410-535-0044 to get involved, donate directly or volunteer. We have numerous fundraisers throughout the year.