Volunteers, supporters and clients were in attendance Sept. 28 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Emergency Care Help Organization's new Client Services Center.
Currently, ECHO, a nonprofit organization, serves more than 11,000 people annually, helping out with food, clothes and furnishings on an emergency basis for up to four times in a person's lifetime.
Now, with the opening of the client service center at 507 N. Parsons Ave., Stacey Efaw, executive director of ECHO, said ECHO will be able to meet all of the needs of an individual living through tough times.
The vision was "to have a one-stop place in Brandon to help them here or to guide them to the exact place they need to go," said Efaw. "We can give them food and clothing, but they have other needs and I felt at times that we were just shipping them off to some other place."
At the center, Efaw noted, clients can learn about and sign up electronically for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps; the Temporary Cash Assistance Program; Medicaid; and Healthy Kids insurance.
In addition, ECHO will work with Hillsborough Community College and other organizations to provide workforce training, classes, counseling and assistance to better meet the needs of clients who find themselves in dire situations because of tough times, emergency situations or an ailing economy.
The ECHO Client Service Center is housed in the part of ECHO that once was used to stock food. Now, in partnership with Feeding America Tampa Bay, that food is stored in Feeding America's Tampa Distribution Center.
For more details, read by Linda Chion Kenney on Brandon Patch.