Life is already hard enough when you’re homeless. When winter sets in, it brings a whole other set of challenges. One local organization, the Essex County Homeless Organization (ECHO) is trying to lessen those challenges by opening a shelter from January through March of the coming year.
ECHO was established in October 2015, operating its first cold weather seasons out of the First Baptist Church in Loretto. However, this season will bring changes with the opening of a new location next to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. The house, once used by the hospital for administrators and physicians, will now provide a homey environment for those in the area who need a place to stay for the night. It will also help provide overflow shelter for The Haven and GUEST (Gloucester United Emergency Shelter Team).
“Homelessness in our area is a little different than what you would see in larger cities,” said Mary Wigmore, RN, CCM, one of the founding members of the shelter’s Board of Directors. “These are our neighbors that are in need of a little bit of help.” The shelter’s growing list of guests are diverse: young and old; individuals and families; working and unemployed. What they have in common is typically one catastrophic event—an illness, fire, job loss, etc.—that throws them into homelessness and the need for help to break the cycle.
The immediate help comes in the form of a warm meal, a comfortable place to spend the night, and a bagged breakfast when they leave in the morning. The shelter also provides items like toiletries, coats and gloves to those that need them.
For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 12/19/18