Local Rotary clubs provide speakers and networking opportunities for their members with local business and community leaders.

Helen Keller’s famous quote: Alone we cannot do much, but together we can do much by encouraging local Rotary clubs to put the spirit of service into practice by working with other clubs to provide services to the homeless shelter ECHO in Paso Robles.

Rotary clubs confirmed the increase in the number of unreached people in North County, which has been hit hard by the COWID pandemic and the economic recession. Many of these residents have had to resort to living in cars or camping in unsafe areas. ECHO is a local organization that provides support to the families and residents of Atascadero and Paso Robles.

ECHO’s goal is to empower homeless people in San Luis Obispo to create positive change by providing food, shelter and supportive services. Most of the needs of this vulnerable population are things that shelter residents take for granted. Local Rotary clubs in Cayucos, Atascadero, Paso Robles, and North Rotaract County have grown to meet many of these needs.

Rotary is an international organization of local clubs. With more than a million members, Rotary International has a well-deserved reputation for supporting polio prevention and other health projects around the world. Internationally, Rotarians are also involved in COWID prevention, peace initiatives, providing clean water and supporting environmental projects in rural and urban areas. Local Rotary clubs provide local speakers for their members and create networks of local businesses and leaders who work together to provide scholarships and other local needs.

Paso Robles Rotary Club members Cynthia Anthony and Joe Irick communicated directly with ECHO to determine real-time needs. In cooperation with the Rotary clubs of Atascadero, Cayucos, Paso Robles Sunrise and North County, Rotaract club members worked together to provide the needed items and collected household bags and hygiene items.

Paso RoblesRotary Club members Joe Irick and Cynthia Anthony donate new underwear to the ECHO homeless shelter. Over 800 pairs of underwear were collected as part of the Drop Your Boxes project.

The Rotary of Atascadero has a long-standing relationship with ECHO, which began with the city’s ECHO aid station. They have partnered to raise funds for Empty Bowls, up to $40,000 per year in the pre-pandemic period. The artisans provided handmade bowls that were auctioned off and filled with soup to benefit local families who were denied assistance.

The Paso Robles Sunrise Rotary donated small, easy-to-carry hygiene items that give people a sense of respect and normalcy. They also offer dental care.

North County Rotary is a newly formed group of young Rotary professionals who network and collaborate on community projects. Their president, Evan Langstaff, says their contribution to ECHO is in the form of fuel cards. Unbanked residents often live without extra money, which prevents them from going to a job interview, a doctor’s appointment, or court. Non-compliance with any of these measures can result in increased medical and financial burdens. The fuel cards allow ECHO to help its clients maintain their independence and their normal activities.

Cayuco Rotary gave gift certificates for the grocery store. While ECHO provides nutrition services, unaccompanied clients need meals for themselves and their children. Giving them the choice to buy the things they want allows them to enjoy the gift and creates a sense of normalcy and dignity.

The Drop Your Drawers project has been one of Rotary’s most supported needs. Paso Robles Rotary meets scale in our socially disconnected world. Through Zoom and other media, they asked for new underwear in all shapes and sizes to offer to ECHO’s customers. Paso Rotary members: Turn in your boxes to local Rotary businesses for free delivery to Echo customers. Rotarians involved are Rick Gorey of State Insurance Company, Jennifer Idler of Idler Home Paso Robles and the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. Over 800 pairs of underwear in all sizes were donated.

In addition to this project, volunteers from the Rotary of Paso Robles set up a food warming station for the Paso Cares Food Project. ECHO is offering hot meals at its new location, the former Motel 6 in Paso Robles. The Rotary of Paso Robles has also provided a sanitation cleaning station, shelving, clothing racks and a storage shed to support this program. All the clubs involved are pleased and excited to meet the needs of ECHO and its customers.

The Sunrise Clubs of Cayucos, Atascadero and Paso Robles plan to continue their work at the shelter. Paso Robles Rotary and North County Rotaract plan to provide storage, food service and other services.

Rotary invites community members to obtain more information or participate in Rotary Self-Service. Visit the Paso Robles Rotary Facebook page at facebook.com/pasoroblesrotaryclub or contact Community Service Chair Cynthia Anthony at (805)610-0786.

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