CAC COVID-19 Response
For 33 years, CAC has served neighbors in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody who struggle to make ends meet as they weather the storms of daily living and economic downturns. While we have never faced a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, our experience and the generosity of community members enabled us to respond to the most essential basic needs of food and shelter for so many who were negatively affected in 2020 by the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Many things have been said about 2020, as people welcomed in the New Year. Most would probably say…goodbye and good riddance. In a year when COVID19 spread like wildfire devastating families and disrupting the economy, civil and political unrest divided our country, and literal wildfires raged in the west…we observed an unparalleled concern for the plight of others. CAC benefitted from a level of “compassion and commitment” not seen in our all of our years serving the community.
CAC looked forward to the new year in 2020 as it opened the Dunwoody Branch office in February. And then on March 15, the pandemic hit close to home and calls for help increased by 400%. CAC’s staff worked quickly to develop an Emergency Response Plan that would focus the organization’s efforts and resources primarily on assistance for rent and food. We revamped program operations to accommodate new safety protocols and made plans to operate without many of our regular volunteers (the most vulnerable per the CDC guidelines). Financial assistance services were moved to a virtual process and staff pivoted to new jobs to man the “mission critical” in-person Food Pantry operation. Families and individuals from all walks of life came together to provide the manpower needed to help our neighbors during this time of unprecedented need.
In 2020, CAC served 9,188 individuals compared to 6,524 in 2019. Approximately 50% of these sought help from CAC for the first time.
CAC was able to help so many people due to timely government grants from the cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, Fulton and Dekalb counties and significant funding from private foundations, congregations, businesses, civic organizations and thousands of individuals. We benefitted from creative fundraising efforts such as “Front Porch Portraits” and a “Corona-aid Concert” performed by Berkley Music School Students.
The COVID-19 economic crisis put families and individuals at risk of homelessness as their livelihoods were suddenly cut off. One family struggled as the single mother (Alice) with 3 young children was laid from her call center job. She worked several waitress jobs and couldn’t make ends meet, but continued to look for better paying work while rent and late fees mounted. With no child support, she and her children faced eviction. CAC worked with Alice and her landlord to reduce or eliminate fees and put a payment plan in place to pay back rent. CAC helped Alice keep her apartment. She started a new job in October that is more steady; and she hopes to be hired back by the call center at some point. Helping our clients stay in their homes eliminates the trauma and upheaval caused by evictions and is less costly than helping a homeless family get back on their feet.