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‘Long Walk Home’ homeless shelter fundraiser set for August 29 

– El Camino Homeless Organization, or ECHO, the non-profit homeless shelter serving north San Luis Obispo County, invites the community to participate in the fourth annual “Long Walk Home” fundraiser. The event will be held August 29, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the shelter located at 6370 Atascadero Mall, Atascadero. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The event is supported by North County service groups, faith-based organizations, businesses and the public.

A photo from last year's event.

A photo from last year’s event.

“This is a critical fundraiser for ECHO,” said Board President Jim Patterson. “ECHO has grown by 67-percent over the last few years. We went from 31 to 50 beds and help many families with children, as well as individuals.” In June the organization sheltered nine families with a total of 15 children. “With everyone’s help, our goal is to raise $40,000 this year,” said fundraising volunteer Robin Smith. “More than two-thirds of ECHO’s operational budget comes from donations. We are a grassroots organization and we simply need the community’s help to continue providing shelter, meals and case management services to North County’s homeless.”

The fun walk begins at the organization, makes its way around downtown Atascadero and back to the homeless shelter. Participants may choose to tour the shelter instead of walking the route. The registration fee includes lunch, raffle tickets, and root beer floats. Walkers can also collect donations and compete for prizes. The team that collects the most donations wins dinner at Atascadero’s Guest House Grill (up to 7 dinners donated). The individual walker who raises the most for ECHO wins an Apple iPad Mini. “It’s a great activity for kids this summer,” said Smith. “Collect donations to help those less fortunate, and perhaps win an iPad Mini just in time for back to school. It’s also a great way for young people in 4-H, scouting and other groups to earn their community service badges.”

“Long Walk Home” is $30 for adults, and children under 18 are free. Registration and donation collection forms can be downloaded at To have forms mailed, call Robin Smith at 434-2236.

Since the first “Long Walk Home” in 2012, many changes have occurred at ECHO including the purchase of a permanent shelter building and extensive renovations. “It is vital for the North County to have a place where homeless individuals and families can get the support they need to get back on their feet,” said Jim Patterson. “ We have success stories every month that show the effectiveness of case management.” Clients work with case managers to develop a plan to help them regain housing and their independence within 90 days. In the month of June, 12 homeless people were housed including a mother and her three children, a pregnant woman, a senior citizen and a veteran.

To donate or learn more, go to or call (805) 462-3663.

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