Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Pre-Thanksgiving charity for Mission Echo

Benjamin Garcia
Michael Lopez, the person who runs a non-profit Mission Echo which gives aid to the homeless, points back to the Echo van behind him.

Families and folks in Skid Row depend on a local non-profit titled Mission E.C.H.O. for direct food aid, as well as first aid supplies, blankets, shoes, hygiene products and temporary shelter.

However, a vital event to collect donations was rained out on Oct. 15 beginning at around 12 p.m.

The event was advertised as family fun with vendors, a live DJ and a raffle for a PS5, to supplement the constant fundraisers of the non-profit organization.

Instead, there were generous regular donors of the organization and a utility van full of people to help receive various offerings.

Michael Lopez, the CEO of the Mission E.C.H.O., had almost nothing to do with the planning of the event and was just told to show up with the non-profit’s van.

All the details were handled by podcaster Jesse Estevez of @qvo_latino_talk. Talon Marks reached out to Esteves for comment but received no response.

Being a Huntington Park man, Lopez didn’t even play a role in choosing the location of Adventure Park in Whittier for the event.

Lopez focuses on the actual work of collecting mostly food donations for direct aid; the hashtag “#ItsOnlyFood,” displayed in @mission_echo‘s bio, is a reminder of this.

Lopez further promises that cash donors’ donations go directly to buying food and not to ingratiate himself in public favor or sustain large overhead.

He is committed to this mission of feeding the hungry because he himself spent 18 years in prison, struggled with addiction and experienced homelessness.

The word “E.C.H.O.” in Mission E.C.H.O. stands for “Ex-Cholo Helping Others.”

He described himself as an ex-cholo because, in his words, “I’m no longer a gang member, hurting my community, doing drugs.” He added that he doesn’t judge anyone and that everyone in Skid Row has a story.

These days, Lopez works as a program director of a patients’ rights advocate program in Orange County, using his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in forensic psychology.

Michael Lopez accepting a cash donation at Adventure Park
Dedicated donors drove from all across Los Angeles County to give their donations to Mission Eco. Teresa Q. and Jerry S. gave a large cash donation and (only wanted to reveal their last initials) on Oct. 15. (Benjamin Garcia)

One of those regular donors present at the event was two people who have helped fund multiple times and won various raffles.

They showed up in person to give the organization a cash donation. Long-time patrons Teresa Q. and Jerry S. would only give their last initials.

Also present at the event was Victoria Valdez who knows Michael Lopez because they are both Huntington Park alumni.

Valdez happened to be in town and wanted to show up for this event in person because homelessness is an issue close to her heart; her mother is houseless.

Michael Lopez speaking with friend at Adventure Park Whittier on 10-15
Victoria Valdez talks to Michael Lopez on Oct. 15 at Adventure Park in Whittier. Valdez was emboldened to go to the Mission Echo event because her mother was houseless. (Benjamin Garcia)

Mission E.C.H.O. accepts donations of anything that a person may need and works with all volunteers every day of the week.

Every Tuesday, Mission E.C.H.O. holds a Hot Dog Tuesday event where people in Skid Row can depend on a meal during the week at night on E. 5th St. and Towne Ave., something rare among hot food aid organizations in Los Angeles.

A $250 donation feeds 125 people in need of food or aid.

Sometime in December, a tentative date will be chosen for the next van-filling event held by Mission E.C.H.O.

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Garcia
Benjamin Garcia, Fall 2017 Online Editor
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Pre-Thanksgiving charity for Mission Echo