Thursday December 1, 2016

ECHO Is Making a Difference

By Martin Jimenez and Barb Miller

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, we are reminiscing about the exciting announcement this summer of the new name of our counseling and social service program – ECHO – which is one of the core programs of the UD Center for Catholic Education.  ECHO stands for Empowering Children with Hope and Opportunity, and that is exactly what the dedicated director and staff strive to accomplish in twelve local Catholic schools.  Prior to June 2016, ECHO was known as UCDRC (Urban Child Development Resource Center.) 

So why did the program name change?  One of the main reasons was that the ECHO staff, advisory board, and collaborators felt that the name Urban Child Development Resource Center did not adequately convey all that the program has to offer.  So many children have been enriched, empowered, and transformed by this program since it began in 2002, and it was apparent that the program name needed to provide a bold testament to the power and scope of this amazing program.  In addition, the acronym UCDRC was a bit confusing since this is a program within the University of Dayton and many wanted to list UD as the first two letters of the program name.

The idea to start a counseling and social services program at UD was conceived by Sister Angela Lydon, S.B.S., previous CCE Director.  Prior to coming to UD, Sr. Lydon had spent time working in New Orleans and was familiar with the Daughters of Charity program called the Seton Resource Center.  The UD Center for Catholic Education develops programs to meet the needs of Catholic schools, and Sister Lydon knew that a program which addressed the social and emotional needs of students in their school setting would provide a holistic learning environment (mind, body, and spirit).  In 2002 the UCDRC program started in 3 urban Catholic schools in Dayton and the name reflected the “urban” schools where the students were served and honored the “resource center” after which it was modeled.

Now in its 15th year, ECHO has gone through much change and growth over the years.  In 2007 a leadership group for seventh and eighth grade students called the Peacemakers began.  Students are mentored to develop as school leaders and help encourage and maintain peace in their schools and communities.  In 2008, Michelle Sherman, the first family advocate, was hired to provide a myriad of services to students and families thanks to community outreach partners.  Michelle works diligently to identify needs (food, clothing, household items, Christmas help, health and safety training, etc.) and creatively finds solutions to meet these needs.  Now in 2016, Rhonda Mercs, ECHO Director, and the eight ECHO counselors, one family advocate, and Marianist PULSE volunteer form a talented and cohesive team to serve the needs of over 2,500 students in 12 local Catholic schools.  ECHO is dedicated to encouraging all children to strive to be happy and healthy,  to achieve their goals, and to venture beyond.  From teaching healthy social skills, providing counseling and intervention when needed, creating peace throughout the halls, and ensuring the overall welfare of students and their families, ECHO truly believes they are making a difference and are helping Empower Children with Hope and Opportunity.

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