STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — When children fall ill, families often face more than just medical worries. They can be hit with steep medical costs. Covering rent and food can also become a struggle if parents are forced to take time off work.
That’s where the Emergency Children’s Help Organization (ECHO) steps in. The not-for-profit helps shepherd families through times of medical or financial crisis.
In the three years since the group was launched, it has given more than $150,000 in grants — money raised from individuals and fundraising events, with 25 percent of the gifts coming from the board members’ own pockets.
The Charleston-based ECHO got a boost in its unique mission recently in the form of a $25,000 grant from the Richmond County Savings Foundation.
“Their only mission is to help children who have disabilities, health needs or other financial needs. Other than the Teddy Atlas Foundation, there aren’t other groups on Staten Island who provide what they provide,” said Richmond County Savings Foundation president Cesar Claro, who presented the check to ECHO board members at the Advance’s Grasmere office.
“When you sit in the room with the people associated with ECHO, you get a sense they are more than just a not-for-profit; you can tell they get emotionally tied to these families and these children.”
Among the more than 50 families who have received a warm hand from ECHO were the Affruntis of New Springville. Last month, the group gave $15,000 to Michael Affrunti, who was left a single father of five when his wife died suddenly, three weeks after a fire had destroyed all the family’s possessions.
“On behalf of the Richmond County Savings Foundation, it’s an honor to be able to contribute to this extremely worthy organization doing so much for needy children in the area,” said Advance Publisher and Richmond County Savings Foundation board member Caroline Diamond Harrison.
“This is going to go to children and their families who have medical or living emergencies and to try and to make a little bit of a difference,” aid ECHO executive director Pasquale Loporcaro.
“Our goal is to help as many children and their families and possible.”
For more information on ECHO, go to www.echoorganization.org.