This profile was last updated in 2004
Mission: To provide emergency assistance to the working poor of Midtown and Downtown Atlanta to forestall homelessness and poverty during periods of crisis.
Serving Midtown and Downtown Atlanta
The Midtown Assistance Center was founded in 1986 by a coalition of five congregations in Midtown Atlanta known as the Peachtree Corridor Congregations. Because each congregation was working separately on the same social issues and often duplicating services to the community, they decided to consolidate their energies to establish the Midtown Assistance Center (MAC). Since its creation, MAC has aided in approximately 73,000 emergency situations through providing temporary assistance in the form of food, clothing, rent and utility assistance, transportation to work or to job interviews, state identification cards, counseling, and referrals. Support totaling almost $400,000 worth of assistance was provided for families in 2003 alone. Clients receiving assistance are primarily those residing in Midtown and Downtown Atlanta in a service area that encompasses six zip codes: 30303, 30308, 30309, 30313, 30312, and 30314.
Key Congregational and Community Support
Today, core financial support for MAC is from ten local congregations, each of which is represented with at least one member on MAC’s Board of Directors. These congregations also provide additional assistance through volunteer support, group advocacy, and other contributions. One member body, the Atlanta First United Methodist Church, for example, houses MAC’s headquarters in Midtown Atlanta and donates office space, utilities, and parking facilities to the group. A six year community partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank also garners necessary support via in-kind services, like printing, as well as through monetary donations. Since MAC has a relatively small staff, it depends largely on volunteers from the local community, most of which come from its member congregations. Presently, there are about 50 regular volunteers, one fourth of which are young adults. These volunteers are trained to provide on-the-spot, direct service to the clients. The Federal Home Loan Bank also brings employees to volunteer for MAC through a program in which it gives each of its employees twenty-four hours of paid volunteer work every year.
Assembling Multi-Religious Involvement
Of the ten member congregations belonging to MAC, there are nine Christian churches representing six denominations and a Jewish synagogue. Although only one Jewish congregation is present, its participation has been invaluable to MAC, said Director Dorothy Chandler. For instance, every year when each congregation sponsors a food drive, the donation from The Temple’s High Holy Days Food Drive has been “by far several times more than all the other congregations’ [drives] put together.” In the predominantly Christian area of Midtown and Downtown Atlanta, it has been a challenge for the organization to expand its multi-faith participation. Even though past efforts like trying to involve a local mosque were unsuccessful, MAC remains open to partnering with other faiths. The group has also changed its logo by removing religious symbols like the Cross and the Star of David and has added a new tagline: an interfaith ministry providing assistance to the working poor. This change served to both clarify the interfaith nature of the group and to alleviate the concern that an emphasis on certain religions might create a barrier for providing services to those in need. Despite these community challenges, MAC promotes interreligious respect and collaboration among its members through efforts like interfaith prayers at the convening of its meetings. In 2003, MAC also held an interfaith clergy luncheon to welcome new clergy members to the neighborhood. In this way, the group’s presence is playing an important role in the community, Chandler noted, not only through providing crucial social services, but in acting as “a positive example of different faiths working together.”
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Atlanta First United Methodist Church
First Presbyterian Church
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
North Avenue Presbyterian Church
Peachtree Christian Church
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
St. Mark United Methodist Church