The event took place in a new location, The Pavilion on the Lake

ATASCADERO — El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) was back for its 9th Annual Empty Bowls on Thursday, April 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first installment of the event took place at a new venue, The Pavillion on the Lake, after eight years of being hosted at Atascadero Bible Church (ABC).

“We are so grateful for the years of support from Atascadero Bible Church, but we just wanted to move to a venue that we were able to access the night before. It helped with set up and really made the event run so smoothly,” said ECHO President and CEO Wendy Lewis.

ECHO estimated that over 300 community members rolled out to the Atascadero Empty Bowls. That did not count their celebrity servers or the volunteers who came out to help put it on.


This year’s celebrity server lineup starred Don Idler, Jen Idler, Pepper Daniels, Atascadero City Councilmember Charles Bourbeau, Randy Doty, Tom O’Malley, 2024 Atascadero Citizen of the Year Jerry Tanimoto, Andy Morris, Atascadero Police Chief Dan Suttles, and Atascadero Fire Captain Dean Pericic.

“This year’s Empty Bowls was extremely successful. Our community always steps up and supports us when we have these big events,” added Lewis.

Another addition to this year’s Empty Bowls was a collaboration between ECHO and The Pottery. The Pottery’s owner, Alecia Teague, hosted a series of classes where community members could come in and make two bowls for the event. One to keep and one to give to other attendees. Teague also hosted a class where ECHO residents could attend and make and give bowls for the event. 

“One of our residents that attended the class, she’s actually found permanent housing and she shared how she was so excited to be able to have her first bowl in her new home. And it was this beautiful bowl that she had made,” added Lewis.

On top of the classes presented at The Pottery, many of the other bowls were made and donated by local artists and students.

“The other part that’s incredible about this event is most everything is donated. We have such a low event cost to put the event on, so almost all of the funds raised goes back into programming and that’s only possible because of our the donations of the beautiful bowls, the delicious soups, that’s the part that makes this event extra special,” Lewis said.

The community also showed up by providing soups for the beautiful handmade bowls, baked goods, and ice cream to go along with it. In fact, 20 soup and food providers came through for the event, including Novo, Wild Fields Brewhouse, McPhee’s Grill, Don Q’s, Niner Wine, Street Side, Halfway Station, Dans Grub Shack, Cass Winery, Brian’s Bread, Bread Bike, A Town Humble Pies, BL Brasserie , Red Scooter, The HATCH, Pappy McGregors, Thomas Hill Organics, Odyssey World Café, Etto Pasta, and Negranti Creamery.

“When they see what we’re trying to accomplish and see our incredible stats that we’re able to show. They support us,” said Lewis on the support from the Atascadero community.

Last year, ECHO was able to help 201 individuals or families get themselves back into permanent housing. That’s the most people they’ve helped in one year in the history of ECHO. So far this year, they’ve already helped over 70 individuals and families.

“We’re exceeding our record numbers from last year. It’s only possible with support from the community, our volunteers, our team,” Lewis continued.

Empty Bowls would not be able to happen without its sponsors; this year, those sponsors are: Howard Products, Home & Ranch Sotheby’s International Realty — David Crabtree, BBSI, Browder Painting, PG&E, Astound Broadband, Specialty Construction Inc., Mechanics Bank, Premier Valley Bank, Idlers Home, Community West Bank, American Riviera Bank, Central Coast Moving Company, The Pottery Atascadero, BHE Renewables, Don and Elaine Witmer, Corvus Wealth Advisors, County of San Luis Obispo, Karlandia Foundation, SESLOC Bank, DiBuduo & DeFendis Insurance Brokers, Carmel & Naccasha LLP, Studios on the Park, All About Events, Atascadero 76, Steve Schmidt Topsoil, Boone Graphics, State Farm Insurance — Courtney Morrow, Arris Studio Architects, The Penny, Dignity Health, Mission Bank, Gerber’s Auto Services , Sky River RV, CoastHills Credit Union, KSBY, AGM, and Dimes Media.

ECHO’s second Empty Bowls event will take place in Paso Robles on Thursday, April 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. To purchase tickets, go to

All funds raised, which will be calculated after the second event later this month, will go directly toward both the Atascadero and Paso Robles ECHO campuses.

To find out more about ECHO and how they impact the local unhoused community, volunteer, or donate, go to

Featured Image: (From left) Don Idler, Fire Captain Dean Pericic, Pepper Daniels, Randy Doty, Atascadero City Councilmember Charles Bourbeau, Jen Idler, Jerry Tanimoto, Atascadero Police Chief Dan Suttles were celebrity servers at ECHO’s Empty Bowls. Photo by Rick Evans.