The Community Assistance Center, which aids people in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs with emergency food and living expenses, needs some help itself during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s getting some funding from the city of Sandy Springs, and a philanthropic couple is matching donations.

The council on March 17 voted to provide $25,000 to the CAC with the condition that it not go to rent subsidies.

And Sandy Springs residents David and Melanie Couchman are raising money through their affordable housing advocacy group, Sandy Springs Together, and their philanthropic organization, the Couchman Noble Foundation.

“These are unprecedented times, and we have community members who need our support as businesses close and their livelihood is suspended due to coronavirus,” Mayor Rusty Paul said in a press release. “Without question, the city is ready to assist the CAC in their efforts to help those most in need.”

“We are providing financial assistance at a higher level than we’ve ever done before,” CAC Executive Director Tamara Carrera said.

“The CAC appreciates the support of the city,” Carrera said in the release. “This partnership means so much to those we serve, and we are so proud that the leadership of the city has had the wisdom to invest in sustaining the most vulnerable members of our community.

Sandy Springs Together has set up a donor page for the CAC, which can be found here. 

The Couchman Noble Foundation is also offering matching funds for donations received through this link. They are also offering to provide matching funds for other organizations that donate to the CAC.

“Our attention has turned to our neighbors who are paid hourly or who are in jeopardy of experiencing income insecurity due to business hour changes or closings, this is especially important when it has been widely reported that many families cannot withstand a $400 emergency expense,” Melanie Couchman said. “In addition, we are concerned about our first responders, nurses and EMTs who our community depends on to keep us healthy and safe. All of them could be called on to go above and beyond what would be considered normal.”

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The city is restricting funds going toward rent subsidies since there is currently a moratorium on rent evictions in Fulton County. Carrera said the majority of the donations are going to the nonprofit’s food distribution programs because the pandemic is going to negatively affect the low-income people in the community that are now out of work.

“The economic impact on the low-income people is very, very hard,” Carrera said. “They won’t have any income coming to them, so we need to provide help for as long as we can.”

CAC has offices located in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, which are closed indefinitely. But two food distribution sites remain in operation.

The Dunwoody office at 5 Dunwoody Park South is open on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for food distribution at the door only. 

The Sandy Springs food pantry at 8607 Roswell Road is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and prepacked bags of food will be distributed at the doors.

Carerra said the majority of the volunteers at the food pantry are older adults, who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised “stay at home as much as possible” to avoid COVID-19. But teens and younger adults in the community have really stepped up to help, Carrera said.

“We have gotten an amazing response from younger people and we have been able to fully operate the food pantry,” Carrera said.

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.