Project ECHO was created as an emergency, temporary shelter for those in need year-round. It currently can house over 40 men, women and children at a time. Project ECHO serves not only as a warm and safe place for people to stay but also as a guide for opportunities to help individuals live a stable and independent lifestyle. In this week’s Friday Focus, we spoke to Teressa Beavers, Development Director of Project ECHO, and learned the difficulties many people have in finding affordable housing even with a steady job. Project ECHO gives so much to people in need, let’s discover what we can do to help.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

Project ECHO is the homeless shelter of Calvert County. We’ve been here since 1992 and we’re open year-round for men, women and families who need temporary, emergency shelter. We provide a 90-day program where clients are given a clean, safe place to stay as well as opportunities to become more self-sufficient, healthier, happier, productive people. Our aim is to provide a place where the homeless don’t just survive, they grow. Outside of our shelter we also offer supportive housing through two shared-living boarding houses and two Oxford recovery houses.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

The best moments are always when former clients come by to say that they’re doing well and to thank us for providing the things they most needed when they most needed them.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

The lack of affordable housing is a huge challenge. When people leave our shelter, even with 90-days of savings and steady income from decent jobs, they still have a very hard time securing housing. It takes the equivalent of four full-time minimum wage jobs to cover the cost of living in an average rental in Southern Maryland.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

The Win $10,000 Winter Raffle is going on now through the end of February. The 17th annual Empty Bowl Supper will be held at St. John Vianney on April 1st, 2017. Our long-awaited thrift shop project is coming along and we hope to open our doors to the public this spring.

 Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

Check out our website for volunteer opportunities such as assisting the shelter house manager or working in the thrift store. We have a few openings listed on our monthly meal provider calendar and a Wish List of our most needed items. Call, email or Facebook us anytime and if you’re in the area during business hours feel free to stop by and see us to discuss ways to get involved.

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