An apartment fire across the street from the future location of the Community Assistance Center’s south Sandy Springs branch brought home the importance of the organization for CEO Francis Horton III.

“When I drove up this morning, I was accompanied by many fire trucks,” Horton said on Tuesday during a “Buildout Bash,” which celebrated CAC’s return to south Sandy Springs. 

Horton said he immediately felt that those impacted by the fire perhaps could use services from the CAC, signaling the nonprofit’s role in the community. 

“[I’m glad] to continue to build relationships that we started a long time ago in this neighborhood,” he said. 

CAC is building a new branch at 120 Northwood Drive. The interior buildout of the space, which is on the ground floor of a new storage facility, is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.

The event also recognized contributions by The Association of General Contractors of GA (AGC) Young Leadership Program. AGC adopted CAC’s Northwood Branch as their nonprofit project for the year. Its spring golf tournament raised $125,000 for the project. They also donated project management services.

AGC’s total donations came in at $135,000, CAC Development Director Pam Jones said.

Brian Cunningham, who was the chair of AGC’s Young Leadership Council when the project was adopted, said it was terrifying and exciting at the same time.

“We appreciate the opportunities, the biggest project we’ve ever taken on. We’re excited about it and we’re excited to see it at the point it is now,” he said.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said the new CAC location is a phenomenal space in a part of the community that really needs it.

“We come through one of the most challenging times in my life and most challenging times in recent history. And this was a hot spot every time I got the maps that showed the highest incidences of COVID. This was ground zero,” Paul said.

He said the city wants to make sure the people in south Sandy Springs, many of whom are Hispanic, have the same benefits and quality of life.

“We want to make sure that they get what they need when they need it. And when they need it, this location is convenient for them to be able to access the services,” Paul said.

On Dec. 10, CAC learned it had been awarded a $100,000 grant from the James H. Cox Foundation. The south Sandy Springs CAC branch will get some of that funding along with other projects, Jones said. This latest grant helped CAC exceed its fundraising goal, with $900,000 in contributions since March of this year.

Patricia Murcia of CAC’s Client Services team will manage the branch. In addition to the food pantry, community members seeking financial assistance will be interviewed there. It also will be a location for people to apply for Medicaid and the Georgia Food Stamp Program (SNAP), she said.

Adult education classes may be offered at the Northwood Drive location.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.