Midtown Assistance Center (MAC) recently celebrated the opening of its new home at 613 Spring Street, across from The Varsity. The renovated location, near the North Avenue MARTA station, doubles its prior space for its expanded food pantry, client services, staff and volunteers.
After 28 years at Atlanta First United Methodist Church, MAC’s move was necessitated by the church’s affordable housing redevelopment plan.
“We reached out to our congregational partners and All Saints’ Episcopal Church had available retail space for us,” said MAC executive director Jennifer Jobson. “This was an opportunity to design a space to best serve the families seeking our assistance, to welcome our community members to partner with us in the work and to grow our team.”
Founded in 1986 on the All Saints’ campus, MAC works to prevent homelessness and hunger in Midtown, Downtown and surrounding Atlanta neighborhoods by providing emergency assistance, food, MARTA transit passes and more to low-income working Atlantans in crisis.
“Everything has come full circle,” said Dorothy Chandler, MAC volunteer and former Executive Director from 1994 to 2019, who reminisced with former clients at the opening. “You don’t forget them and they don’t forget you and the good works – whether it’s a bag of food or a rent payment.”
In the past year as rents rose during a lingering pandemic, MAC assisted 2,300+ individuals and provided more than $1 million in direct assistance.
“The city has helped hundreds of people with housing but there are hundreds more in the pipeline,” Lisa Gordon, City of Atlanta Chief Operating shared at the opening. “MAC’s work is critical to stem that tide and provide services before people need it.”
Jobson is proud of MAC’s homeless prevention work and is most excited about its expanded Client Choice Food Pantry that can absorb more food and serve more families.
“We’ve been able to increase our offerings – for example perishable proteins like chicken and salmon,” Jobson said, due to new refrigerator and freezer storage. “Clients can either pick it up by appointment or have it delivered .”
DoorDash delivers to MAC clients for free, which can double the groceries they receive while awaiting benefits or their next paycheck.
“If a family has an insurance, medical or cell phone bill – those are things we don’t help with,” Jobson said. “But we can say ‘come into our food pantry, receive food assistance – that will save you a couple hundred dollars you can divert toward those bills.”
For those with limited access to technology, MAC’s proximity to MARTA, makes it easier to receive services and connect with nearby partners like All Saints’, Covenant Community Ministries and Threads. MAC also partners with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to help clients complete the online emergency rental assistance application.
The iconic Spring Street and North Avenue corner is a vehicle for outreach.
“The windows drive the branding so more Atlantans will know who MAC is and the services it provides,” said Jennifer Gibilterra, MAC board member.
“We now have the space to welcome more community members to partner with us in the work,” Jobson said. “Our volunteers often become our best advocates and supporters.”