Community Assistance Center (CAC), LaAmistad, and Los Niños Primeros made their return on April 27 to the southside of Sandy Springs at the same location off Northwood Drive but in a brand new building.

The three nonprofits worked with the developer of the building at 120 Northwood Drive to assure space for them on the site, which includes storage rental, retail spaces and Northwood Park for local residents. On Wednesday, they held a joint ribbon cutting and open house to thank supporters, boards of directors and volunteers.

Community Assistance Center

“This is a celebration, a celebration of a return to this community for these three organizations,” said CAC Executive Director Francis Horton. “And listen, that’s great for us and the organization. But it’s great for the community as well, because it opens up opportunities.”

He thanked Mayor Rusty Paul and the Sandy Springs City Council for helping make this happen.

“The mayor was instrumental in making this happen – negotiations, that persistence – in all the things that the mayor put into that allow these three organizations to have this space that you’re looking at today in a brand new building across the brand new park,” Horton said.

He said CAC could not have opened without its partnership with the Association of General Contractors of Georgia, which contributed financially, contributed expertise and more.

CAC’s South Sandy Springs Branch improves access for residents who live nearby and will offer client assistance services, a food pantry, and adult education classes. Hours of operation will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30-1 p.m.

Los Niños Primero

“I welcome each one of you on this special day as we celebrate the power of partnerships, and we embrace diversity in more different forms and shapes,” Maritza Morelli, executive director of Los Niños Primero, said.

She said this was the opening of a community center wanting to extend its face to where the Latino community felt connected to its culture and roots.

“My heart today, it’s full of joy, knowing that this center will soon be full of children learning, dancing, playing instruments, and ultimately enhancing their lives,” Morelli said.

Los Niños Primero is the only Latina-led, Atlanta nonprofit that provides educational, leadership, civic engagement, sports, arts and cultural enrichment programs to children, youth, and families.

LaAmistad

“We have been working in the community for 20 years. And it is such a pleasure to be back as Francis said, where we were in this old rundown building and now look at us,” Catrina DaCosta Mcafee, executive director of LaAmistad, said.

The three organizations collaborated on how to use the space together to make sure they serve all their friends across the street and in the surrounding community.

“It’s wonderful because we’ve got a little bit of everything. We’ve got some food, we’ve got financial literacy, we’ve got adult education, and we’ve got Los Niños Primero, which of course can work with all of the littles,” Mcafee said. “So we’ve really got a wonderful opportunity here to continue to allow this community to get the services they need the education they need so this community can thrive and not survive.”

The LaAmistad Community Center will be the first dedicated location for adult education, including ESL classes, parenting workshops, and more.

Remarks from Mayor Rusty Paul 

Mayor Rusty Paul said the community just emerged from two years of COVID only to deal with inflation, which has caused housing and gasoline costs to go through the roof. Some struggling families were beginning to get their footing when they were hit with the pandemic.

“So having this facility here at this time, is almost providential because of so many families who’ve come through stress and through challenges are now continuing to face a different set of challenges. And you’re going to be here to help them meet and survive those challenges,” he said.

Housing like the apartments across the street that would have been valued at $95,000 six or seven years ago are now going for $275,000 to $300,000, so rents are going up appreciably, Paul said. Everyone has been to the grocery store and has seen what’s going on with food prices, he said. 

“Having people who now are working but can’t afford to get to work, so they need more help. They need more support,” Paul said. “And I am so appreciative of the community effort that has gone in making this happen.”

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.