Thirty and thriving: East Cooper Community Outreach continues growth
East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) is bringing awareness to their organization and expanded services in celebration of their 30th anniversary.
“As times change, needs change,” said Stephanie Kelley, executive director of ECCO. “We have gone from providing an emergency three-day supply of groceries when ECCO first started, to providing a two-week supply of groceries in an effort to better serve community members.” The addition of ECCO’s monthly seasonal and fresh farmer’s market is also something that clients would not have seen when the organization first started serving the neighborhood in 1989.
ECCO has also enhanced financial services like its Asset Development Program (ADP), formerly known as the IDA Program. This is the only asset development program for adults in the Lowcountry and is a savings-match program that generates up to $3,000 for a client’s saved $1,000. These funds can be used for starting or developing a small business, purchasing a home or attending college.
“There are currently more than 50 individuals on the waiting list for this program,” said Kelley. “We hope to be able to offer this to more of our low-income neighbors in an effort to help move more people into financial stability.”
While ECCO started as an emergency resource after Hurricane Hugo, it has morphed into a permanent resource for families living in both generational and situational poverty. Over half of those serviced by ECCO are senior citizens or disabled community members that are in need of wrap-around resources that improve their quality of life. ECCO also works to serve those who are working and have a need for resources that help them meet a challenge such as unemployment, death or departure of a spouse.
“Each client we serve has an individual experience with poverty and we work to help them recover, manage or begin again.” said Kelley. “We recognize that a one-size program does not fit all. That’s why we are excited about continuing and expanding upon our offered services with the help of our community members and businesses.”
East Cooper Community Outreach provides safety-net services to neighbors in financial distress while empowering them to create better lives for themselves, their families and their communities. The non-profit offers comprehensive support services in three main program areas: basic needs, health and empowerment. ECCO believes in helping neighbors help themselves by giving a hand up, not a handout. Follow ECCO on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit their website at eccocharleston.org to find out more.