After 2020, most nonprofits offering assistance in Atlanta thought they would see numbers of those in need drop. They were caught off guard in 2022 as numbers actually increased. Contributing factors include inflation exceeding salaries as well as an influx of immigrants from Ukraine and a multitude of other countries. There are an estimated 20,000 people in Sandy Springs alone in need of assistance. There are a myriad of wonderful organizations and events devoted to helping our neighbors through the toughest of times. Whether you are looking for ways to give back or for a helping hand, you can find it right here in Sandy Springs. Sandy Springs Cares will be a regular feature where we highlight an event or organization providing assistance to those in need within our own backyard.
“Most of our clients walk into our offices for the first time scared, anxious, and excessively stressed. However, when they leave, it is with hope and promise.”, says Laura Deupree with Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs. CAC opened its doors in Sandy Springs over 35 years ago and has become an integral part of our community. The center averages 400 volunteers per month and assisted 6,900+ people in 2022 alone. CAC has 2 locations in Sandy Springs and one in Dunwoody and serves these two communities exclusively. Proof of residency is a requirement prior to receiving assistance.
When asked what she loves most about CAC, Laura’s response was emotional. “There are certainly many tears shed, but not from sadness. There is just something extremely emotional about helping people on a very basic level.”
Deupree, one of only 20 staff for the entire organization, told us that their biggest goal is helping people to avoid evictions. She says that once a family loses their home, it’s exponentially difficult to get back on their feet. “Most of our customers come to us for help only when they are completely out of other options. They typically go to family members first, then try selling valuables, etc.”
Financial assistance is the most popular request at CAC. The center has the ability to offer financial assistance to those who qualify one time per year. They can offer vouchers for the food pantries and the upscale thrift store throughout the year. This has been a godsend for so many; however, the CAC provides so much more beyond immediate monetary help. A major objective is to provide assistance in actually helping families achieve greater future financial independence. Deupree says, “Getting our clients back on their feet and making sure they thrive the best they can is paramount.” To that end, the center excels! They offer many adult education courses, one of the most popular being English as a second language. Other courses include computer workshops, soft skills training, and personal financial management.
A new initiative CAC just launched is Sandy Springs Connects!, a job fair that was a success right out of the gate! Over 40 companies participated in the first event which just took place on January 12th at Sandy Springs City Hall. HIREDunwoody will be their job fair effort for the Dunwoody community and will be held Thursday, March 30 from 11:00 – 2:00pm at Perimeter Mall. The CAC has a complete career center, where they provide just about all of the fundamentals necessary to assist their clients in establishing a career path. Thus, serving to fulfill their mission of not only aiding people with their immediate basic needs but also setting their clients on a path of future financial success.
When asked where the biggest need for volunteers lies, Deupree responded without pause, “Our education department.” “There is a huge demand, not only from a significant Hispanic population in Sandy Springs but also from recent Ukrainian immigrants and immigrants flooding in from many other countries.” A close second need for volunteers, and possibly an easier one to fill, is for financial assistants. These volunteers meet with clients. Their most important skill is listening. Most clients coming through the center are understandably stressed and worried. Calmly talking through their situations with someone who can help them is a tremendous service. Don’t let the title fool you. These volunteers need little experience. The center is happy to provide the small amount of training that is necessary!
There are plenty of additional volunteer opportunities within this one organization. Beyond helping in one of the food pantries or thrift store, one can assist within the IRS program, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). Again, no experience is necessary, and staff will train you. There is a multitude of youth programs where kids can contribute as well. The center is even open to having groups of young people come up with their own special events and drives to fill various needs within our community.
“Everyone needs help at some point.”, says Deupree. Sandy Springs is fortunate to have many organizations ready, willing, and able to assist in almost every imaginable way. During a time when we have started routinely hearing the words “hate” and “divisive”, it is incredibly heartwarming to be assured that our communities are, in reality, actually full of love for each other.
How to Find CAC and Important Links
Locations and Hours
Calendar of Workshops and Classes
Catalog of Assistance Offered