Shelter helps young family stabilize after turbulent times


Matt Navarrete is now shelter manager at ECHO.

Homeless organization El Camino shares its success story

– The homeless organization El Camino (ECHO) has many success stories to share and they sometimes say that an exceptional story comes to light. Matt Navarrete is one of those stories.

The Navarrete family was like any typical family, until crime took hold in their neighborhood. A young family, Matt and Miriam were expecting their third child when the neighborhood became unsafe for them. Matt’s mother offered that they temporarily move in with her until they could get back on their feet. When the landlord discovered that two families were living in the house, he gave an ultimatum for someone to move out. Matt and Miriam made the difficult decision to go their separate ways, Matt would stay with a friend in Atascadero and continue looking for work. Miriam’s mother has offered that she and the children move in with her to Los Angeles until they can find their own place to live.

While working temporary jobs and living on his friend’s couch, Matt began to search for stable, permanent employment. He found a paid internship at ECHO through a workforce development program and it was there that he learned he could bring Miriam and their children to ECHO to participate in the 90-day program for start their lives over. “I never expected to end up homeless, especially with a newborn baby, but it just wasn’t safe in our neighborhood anymore and we had nowhere to go to stay together.”

After a few months, Matt was able to find full-time employment and the family moved into a three-bedroom apartment. “We were so happy to have our own home, it was such a relief to know we were going to make it, we had a roof over our heads and food on the table and we are so grateful for the ECHO program I don’t know what we would have done without it.

And where is the Navarrete family now? Miriam works in Paso Robles and the children are happy and attend schools in Atascadero. As for Matt, he decided he wanted to help others and is now the shelter manager at ECHO, Paso Robles. Matt’s story is an inspiration to anyone who walks through the doors looking for help.

ECHO runs shelters in Atascadero and Paso Robles to meet the immediate needs of families and people who have become homeless. With a unique residency program, clients receive case management services to help them find employment and find permanent, sustainable housing within three months of entering the shelter program. While enrolled in the program, clients learn life skills for employment, budgeting, healthcare management, and social communication and interaction. The goal and outcome of this practical support is to empower residents to move in a positive direction while helping them gain the skills and services they need to become self-sufficient, including safe housing.

A force of 1,500 community volunteers provide auxiliary support to run the shelters and a meal program that serves up to 140 dinners each evening to shelter residents and the homeless population. ECHO also runs a shower program that provides hot showers three nights a week to anyone in need. ECHO provides all necessary toiletries and offers access to essential clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and shoes.

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About the Author: News Staff

The A-Town Daily News press team wrote and edited this article based on local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this journal and the founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn or follow his blog. He can be contacted at

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