East Cooper Community Outreach dedicates its new building

MOUNT PLEASANT — On Sept. 20 East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO), a nonprofit human services organization founded in 1989 in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, held a blessing and dedication ceremony at its new 12,000-square-foot facility located on Six Mile Road across the from Laing Middle School in Mount Pleasant.

The building was funded through the You Are My Neighbor Capital Campaign launched in mid-1999. More than 50 donors were involved in the initial funding effort, which has generated more than $2 million in donations.

Complete Building Corporation (CBC) of West Ashley was the primary contractor, and Smith Gerber McClure Architects (SGM) of Mount Pleasant designed the building. From 1990 until this year, ECCO was located in a cramped and aging building adjacent to the S.C. Army Guard Unit off Mathis Ferry Road.

The 10 a.m. ceremony marked one year to the day since ground was broken for construction of the new building, which has been named the Donald J. Barhyte Memorial Center. Barhyte was a longtime friend and benefactor to the organization. His son, Mark, attended as a representative of the family.

This community-supported agency serves the needy east of the Cooper through a number of programs, and welcomes the underprivileged from the Charleston metro area to its emergency dental clinic and Med-I-Assist (prescription medicine assistance) programs. The organization employs a small staff supported by some 100 volunteers. An average of 8,000 individual and family members are served annually at no cost through programs and services that include but are not limited to emergency food distribution, clothing, household furnishings, emergency financial assistance, dental and medical assistance.

ECCO also has an extensive referral network with other nonprofit organizations, as well as local and state human services agencies, to further assist people in distressed circumstances. ECCO has made the building available to these organizations and others in an effort to better serve the needy east of the Cooper.

Currently, the St. Vincent de Paul Society uses 1,200 square feet in the building for collection and distribution of donated furniture and household effects. Shades of Hope, a domestic violence victim assistance organization, stores items needed by their clients. The Catholic Charities Office of Immigration Services provides low cost immigration counseling services to Charleston metro area Hispanics and other foreign nationals. And the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is using office space on an as-needed basis to conduct selected interviews of their East Cooper clients and assist ECCO with potential client referrals.

Msgr. James A. Carter, pastor of Christ Our King Church and founder of ECCO, presided at the ceremony. Joining him in celebrating the milestone event were Bishop Robert J. Baker, bishop of the Diocese of Charleston; David B. Thompson, retired bishop of Charleston; Samuel McPherson, pastor of Greater Goodwill AME church; Greg Surratt, pastor of Seacoast Christian Community Church; and David Bruner, director of Missions at East Cooper Baptist Church.

The “Smalls Singers” from the Greater Goodwill AME Church opened and closed the ceremony with spirituals. Guests at the event included community and business leaders and other ECCO supporters. After the ceremony, guests were invited to have refreshments and tour the new facility.

For additional information on ECCO and the new building, please call Rick Leary, executive director, or Kristen Patterson, executive assistant, at (843) 849-9220 or e-mail rleary@eccocharleston.org or kpatterson@eccocharleston.org. East Cooper Community Outreach is located at 1145 Six Mile Road, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466.