ECHO celebrated the grand opening of its newly renovated Kitchen/Pantry with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 13. Members of the three area Chambers of Commerce- Seffner, Brandon and Riverview along with invited guests and the volunteers of ECHO were on hand to celebrate the momentous occasion.
A special thanks goes to Walmart and Bank of America for providing the funding to make this renovation possible. A heartfelt thanks goes to all of the volunteers and members of the community who helped make the dream a reality.
ECHO is pleased to announce that our newly renovated kitchen/pantry is open! Claudia of Brandon was the first client to experience our new food distribution process. Claudia was able to shop for both her clothes and her food at ECHO.
This new food distribution system will help empower our clients to shop for themselves in a dignified manner. In addition to seven days’ worth of non-perishable items, Claudia was able to get fresh produce, meat, eggs and margarine. We also offer toiletries and household goods when available.
ECHO will cut the ribbon on the new kitchen/pantry on Thursday, June 13 at 3 p.m. Join us for the celebration!!
Yvonne Villafuete of Seffner became the first graduate of ECHO’s free GED class. “We are so proud of Yvonne. She is living proof that you can get your GED and work towards a better life for yourself and your family,” said Sharmaine Burr, Client Center Supervisor.
Yvonne started GED classes after the first of the year and took the test in April. “I decided to take the classes to better myself and to go to college,” said Yvonne. In fact, Yvonne is on her way to a better life as she has already applied to attend HCC.
Services Offered By ECHO
ECHO offers free GED classes on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. You can work at your own pace. Ms. Ginny, a retired Hillsborough County Schools teacher, provides one on one test prep assistance. FREE COMPUTER CLASSES
We offer free Basic Computer (Thursdays from 2 to 3 p.m.) and Intermediate Computer (Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m.) classes. Sign up for classes which start at the end of June by calling ECHO at 685-0935. Class size is limited. HEALTHY LIVING CLASSES
Registration is now available for the next series of Healthy Living classes which begin on June 19. Learn about nutrition, how to eat healthy on a budget, reduce stress and what to ask your doctor.
Those who attend get a voucher for food and clothes from ECHO. FREE VISION SCREENING
Prevent Blindness of Florida will be at ECHO on Friday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon providing free vision screening. Get a voucher for free prescription glasses.
Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) is teaming up with Prevent Blindness Florida help those in need see a brighter tomorrow.With the help of the Allegheny Franciscan Ministries grant, Prevent Blindness Florida is able to work with ECHO in providing this screening in Brandon.
Kathy Collins, who started out as a volunteer, is now the event coordinator for ECHO. She was happy to shed light on why teaming up with Prevent Blindness was a good fit.
“It fits within our mission is trying to help people to get themselves out of their problems that they may have. If they can’t see, then they can’t look for jobs — so if they need glasses, it was a good thing for us to get involved with.”
Prevent Blindness Florida gives around three hundred free vision screenings each year helping between six and seven thousand people. Adults and children are provided with a visual acuity test to see a glasses may be needed. If so, they can apply for about a voucher the provides them with an eye exam and glasses, free of charge.
Jennifer Whittington, the program manager with Prevent Blindness Florida, explains that even though the free vision screening is open to anyone, there are guidelines for getting the voucher for a free eye exam and glasses.
“As far as the criteria for the examination and glasses, we do go by a two hundred percent of poverty guidelines. They would have to qualify financially, as well as the not having insurance that covers vision already — like medicaid, medicare, or private insurance.
This is the first time Prevent Blindness Florida worked with ECHO for vision screenings, both organizations look forward to working together in the future.
By PAUL CATALA | Tribune correspondent
Published: March 12, 2013
View original story here
RIVERVIEW –The conditions weren’t as dire as those found during the Great Depression, but guests in a soup line still got a taste of the bare sustenance lifestyles some in eastern Hillsborough County go through each day.Standing underneath an outdoor pavilion, representatives from local restaurants and charitable organizations spooned out bowlfuls of various soups to guests who took part in Emergency Care Help Organization Brandon’s (ECHO) first “Empty Bowls” event.It was one of dozens of Empty Bowls events held annually around the world by artists and art groups to fight hunger.Artists create and donate bowls, then serve a simple meal. This year, five area elementary schools – Alafia, Cimino, Lithia Springs, Winthrop Charter, Frost and classes from Metropolitan Ministries — donated decorative clay pottery bowls handmade by students.
With their $15 donation, guests got to pick out a bowl to take home and were served a meal of soup, bread and water at the Winthrop Pole Barn.
Stacey Efaw, ECHO executive director, said about 20 ECHO volunteers came out to work the event. Ten area restaurants and civic groups served their favorite soups ranging from chicken noodle and cream of broccoli, to black bean and clam and corn chowder.
The event raised $7,000, adding to the $5,500 in sponsorships raised in advance.
Most of the students in art teacher Shelly Valdez’s classes likely have not experienced real hunger in their young lives.
As they prepared to make clay pinch bowls that will be used during an anti-hunger fundraiser, they learned that some 400,000 people just in the greater Hillsborough County region face food shortages regularly. Hunger is a reality for one in six children in this community.
The Lithia Springs Elementary School students made dozens of small clay bowls that will be used for Empty Bowls 2013, a fundraiser hosted by the Emergency Care Help Organization, or ECHO, to feed the needy. ECHO, located in Brandon, steps in for families in catastrophic situations when they need immediate assistance. (more…)
ECHO is thankful to the members of Tampa Bay Vettes and especially JoAnn and Frank Crawford, long time ECHO volunteers for a recent donation. The club donated $550 to ECHO. The money came from the 2012 Tampa Bay Vettes Homecoming Season.
We are so very appreciative of this donation which will help ECHO to continue to serve over 10,000 area residents each year with food and clothing assistance. We could not do what we do without the support of clubs and organizations such as the Tampa Bay Vettes.
VALRICO, Fla. -
I remember art — one of those “fun” classes that came around once a week in school that they used to call “specials.” Who knew that all the while we were coloring and stuff… We were actually learning.
“They get a little bit of math, they get a little bit of science,” said
Shelly Valdez, an art instructor at Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico. “We do writing, we incorporate words sometimes, so I kind of feel like we encompass all of the different subjects in art.”
So sneaky those art instructors… especially the ones who’ve been at it awhile — like Ms. Valdez — who’s now into here 11th year of teaching. These days, she’s taking those lessons a little further.
“We’re also going to be teaching them that they can use their art to make a difference in other people’s lives,” she said.
“And,” she added, “we’re going to be using it as a way to raise money for people that are less fortunate.”