The History of ECHO
ECHO was founded in April 2000 by two friends: LaLonni Mizzell, who homeschools four children, and Carren Joye, homeschooling mom of four and author of Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families and A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups. The idea for a support group came from two different directions and merged to form the Elmore County Homeschool Organization.
LaLonni, who was homeschooling two children at the time, first thought of starting a homeschool group for the Wetumpka area in late 1999. She was inspired by the name "echo" and the symbolism of an "echo" (you get out of it what you put in it). It was a few weeks later when she realized that the acronym could stand for the Elmore County Homeschool Organization. Unsure exactly how to proceed, she prayed for guidance to get the group started and contacted a few other homeschool families in the Wetumpka area to gauge the level of interest.
Meanwhile, Carren and her husband realized a need for a homeschool support group combined with a playgroup for both parents and young children in the Millbrook area. As author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups, Carren had experience in starting and maintaining various playgroups, but she realized that she would need help to start an organization of this type. She and her husband prayed about the next step.
After meeting each other at a club meeting for their children in February 2000, both LaLonni and Carren realized they had the same idea for a homeschool group and decided to work together. They planned for a homeschool support group that would meet during the day frequently enough to form lasting friendships and would be focused on younger children and their parents.
The first meeting of the Elmore County Homeschool Organization was held at Carren’s home on April 14, 2000, with a dozen homeschooling families present. That summer, LaLonni and Carren were interviewed on WSFA's 12 Talk, and ECHO was featured in The Montgomery Advertiser, Prattville Progress, Wetumpka Herald and Montgomery Parents Magazine.
Membership grew, and what began as a support group for Millbrook and Wetumpka gradually expanded to Montgomery and Autauga Counties and beyond. As our children grew up together, ECHO changed along with the changing members' needs. Activities expanded to include events for teens and parents, too.
In late 2007, as the children of the early members reached high school ages and branched out to find new outlets, the new families in ECHO had different needs, so ECHO changed again to meet those needs. Once again, the focus was on activities for children during the meeting. Fortunately, this area is blessed with a homeschool organization that is flexible enough to change with the changing face of homeschooling.
From 2007-2014 ECHO saw several changes in leadership, location, and format. Currently ECHO is thriving and seeing continued growth at Harvest Fields Community Church in Deatsville with Catherine Ray & Tanya Murphy on the leadership team. We have members from all over the River Region attending events. We have regular meetings twice a month, teen events once a month, and field trips once a month. ECHO events regularly appear in local newspapers & magazines. Catherine & Tanya were even featured in 2015 in a 13 minute interview on an episode of Joy In Our Town on WMCF-45. We are very happy with what ECHO has become and look forward to what it will accomplish in our community in the future.