Kiwanis raises $23,500 for playground at homeless shelter
On Saturday, Jan. 31, El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO), celebrated the opening of its new playground. Atascadero Kiwanis raised $23,500 to pay for the playground. Doug Lapp, Central Coast Park and Recreation Company, donated his time to design and install the equipment.
The playground is designed for children 2 to 5 years old and consists of swings, a climbing structure and a bright yellow duck mounted on a steel spring.
“We are so thankful for the Kiwanis, Doug Lapp and all the other volunteers who made this possible,” said Charlotte Byrne, ECHO board member and longtime volunteer. “At ECHO, we strive to make the atmosphere as pleasant and nurturing as possible for the children. This playground allows them to have some quality time with their parents.”
According to Executive Director Bill Watt, the face of homelessness includes children. “Right now we have 18 children at ECHO. On a regular basis we have families with babies to teenagers, and they come from all over North County.”
Terri Sherwin, ECHO board member and fundraising volunteer said that the playground would not have happened without the Kiwanis donation. “Our fundraising committee has to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate ECHO and make the services possible to get homeless individuals and families back home,” she said. “Many people in the community believe that we receive most of our operating dollars from the government. That’s not true. We raise more than 75% of our budget from local donations large and small. We just don’t have the fundraising capacity to pay for a playground. So we are ecstatic that the Atascadero Kiwanis took this on.”
Founded in 2001, ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization, is a grassroots, volunteer-based nonprofit that provides meals, shelter, and onsite case management for the homeless in North County. ECHO is a 50-bed transitional shelter helping individuals and families with children find permanent housing within three months of entering. ECHO serves all communities in north San Luis Obispo County. To donate or learn more about ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization, go to www.echoshelter.net or call (805) 462-3663.