ECHO ‘Stretched to the Breaking Point’

Staff members and supporters of Every Citizen Has Opportunities, the nonprofit organization that helps place people with disabilities in jobs at area businesses, asked county supervisors last week not to forget the organization during this year’s fiscal year 2018 budget deliberations.

“This year, we’re stretched to the breaking point,” said ECHO CEO Paul Donahue Jr. The last time ECHO had an increase in funding support from the county government, was fiscal year 2008, he said, and this year the agency already has a waiting list of 28 people.

John Chapman of Round Hill said his adult daughter, Brianne, delivers mail at Inova Loudoun Hospital, a job she found through ECHO.

“As a mother and father you can only do so much, and without having the community, the hospitals and school system and programs to help those who can’t help themselves, it would be very tough,” Chapman said. “I encourage you to at least look very hard into the budget and see in your hearts to make sure we can help those programs like ECHO, and that we can move forward and continue helping those that need it the most.”

ECHO Senior Director of Operations Zanelle Nichols said programs like those offered by the nonprofit are often overlooked.

“It is easy to see why we need to fund mental health programs when we have individuals walking into classroom and shooting their classmates,” Nichols said. “It’s easy to see why you need to fund substance abuse programs when you have an opioid epidemic. And it’s very easy to see why developmental services are often overlooked, because we don’t make the headlines.”

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