Evergreen Christian Outreach celebrated an adventure on March 4.
The nonprofit that offers a food bank, resale shop and a wide range of services to people in need celebrated the culmination of the work it took to move its programs into one location. That celebration included lauding the late Jan Stadler, who was instrumental in helping the organization procure the space on Meadow Drive. Stadler died in 2021.
EChO purchased the building in October 2020 and immediately moved the food bank. Other services moved since then, including the resale shop, which opened in the new location last fall.
“We are celebrating the journey of getting into the building,” said Dale Flanders, EChO’s executive director since January 2021. “Jan was on the board and the catalyst for us getting the space. She made the magic happen.”
EChO had its food bank and some offices at Church of the Transfiguration and the resale shop and more offices in Evergreen North.
“This space is an answer to decades of prayers,” Flanders told those gathered for the dedication. He thanked former board members who have served the organization since its inception 35 years ago for their work, noting, “We built this organization on your shoulders.”
Virginia Hartmere, EChO’s current board president, said in 2018, EChO put an item in its strategic plan to have a space of its own, and by 2020, the organization’s officials were negotiating for the space.
“Jan engaged contractors, friends and family to make this happen,” she said. “Jan set the dominos in place. It was her vision, determination and enthusiasm that turned this place into our home. We are celebrating the impact Jan had on EChO and the community.”
Ray Dowdle, past EChO board president, said in May 2020 as the pandemic was in full swing, it was apparent that the food bank would not continue to operate if it stayed where it was because it was in tight quarters, and social distancing wasn’t an option. Staff brough food outside for clients during nice weather, but that wouldn’t continue as the weather got colder.
Flanders added that had EChO not moved when it did, it would not have been able to accommodate the 40% increase in clients over the past year, and he anticipates continued growth in clients.
“This building is a perfect example of what an organization like EChO can do,” Dowdle said.
Flanders called the building a launching point for what comes next for the organization.
“A building is just a building,” he added. “It’s the people that make it work. Everything aligned perfectly to make something amazing happen.”
EChO has a new logo of a drop of water making ripples.
“Jan made a huge ripple in the lives of others,” he noted.
Jan’s husband Craig said he helped with the EChO move, picking up 120 bags of concrete from various businesses down the hill and hauling them into the building.
“There weren’t many people around when I was doing this,” he said, laughing, and added that helping EChO was a labor of love.
As part of the ceremony, he screwed the plaque honoring Jan into the wall, kissing the plaque that has a likeness of his wife on it, as he finished.
The plaque says: “Jan Stadler, 1957-2021: This building is dedicated to the memory of Jan Stadler, beloved and revered EChO board member, without whose vision, resourcefulness and initiative this home for EChO would not exist.”
EChO started in 1987 after an economic downturn in Colorado fueled in part by an oil bust. Gordon Wyant and Jim Benson, who owned a construction supply business together, were looking for a way to be of service to the community. They learned of an elderly woman in Morrison who needed help with home repairs and with putting food on her table.
As they provided aid, they realized Evergreen probably had others in the same situation, so they went to Church of the Transfiguration for space to start a food bank. They turned a closet into their food pantry and had two refrigerators for perishable food. There were also a few shelves for clothes.
Those who became involved in the fledgling nonprofit knew that families in need were going from church to church for help, and EChO was available to provide a one-stop shop for needy families. Founding churches included Church of the Transfiguration, Evergreen Fellowship and Evergreen Lutheran Church.
In 2000, EChO opened its Resale Shop, and about 10 years ago, the Job Center opened.
EChO’s building on Meadow Drive was known as The Place, and before that, it was a grocery store, a carpet store, a place for nonprofits and more.