The El Camino Homeless Organization is in immediate need of overnight chaperone volunteers this summer. The position is typically filled by Cal Poly students during the school year. A minimum of two volunteers are needed each night to stay at the shelter and help supervise clients in an interactive manner. This is a unique position compared to other volunteer opportunities as it provides a safe space for volunteers to connect with clients of all ages in a personal way. It also allows volunteers the option of serving with a friend or family member in a quiet, family-like setting.
The shift runs from 5 p.m.-7 a.m. Upon arrival, overnight volunteers will receive training from an experienced orientor, who will give a tour of the facility and outline expected duties for the evening. Chaperones sleep in shifts, with one volunteer awake at all times. An on-site resident staff member is on call throughout the duration of the overnight shift.
Volunteer duties include supervising outdoor children activities (e.g. basketball, four-square, tag, etc.), acting as a listening ear for clients wanting to talk and alerting the on-site resident staff member should anything happen throughout the evening. This is a safe and extremely rewarding experience that gives volunteers the opportunity to immediately see the impact their service has on the lives of others.
“Our volunteers are core to the success of our mission to end homelessness in our community,” said Wendy Lewis, President/CEO of ECHO. “Volunteers come to us with the desire to give back to the community and are surprised at just how rewarding it is. Many of them tend to form life-long friendships with other volunteers and typically become regulars in a variety of volunteer positions.“
ECHO operates a safe and secure overnight, 50-bed shelter to meet the immediate needs of families and individuals who have become homeless. With a unique residency program, clients are provided case management services to assist them in securing a job and finding permanent and sustainable housing within three months of entering the shelter program. While enrolled in the program, clients are taught life skills for employment, budgeting, health care management and social communication and interaction. The goal and the result of this practical support is the empowerment of residents to move in a positive direction while assisting them in acquiring the skills and services they need to become self-sustaining, including securing housing.
A force of 1,500 community volunteers provide ancillary support to run the shelter and a meal program that serves as many as 80 dinners each night to both shelter residents and the homeless population. ECHO also operates a shower program that provides hot showers three nights a week to anyone in need. ECHO supplies all the necessary toiletries and offers access to clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and much needed footwear.
For more information, contact ECHO’s Volunteer Coordinator, Raychel Nowak at 805-539-7858 or Rnowak@echoshelter.org or visit www.echoshelter.org.