Empty wallet, empty pocket… with no change of their own clients come to rebuild their lives. For over 25 years the Midtown Assistance Center (MAC) has been serving the working poor—a community that often does not qualify for federal programs. MAC is a one-stop shop to address multiple issues including public transportation, clothing, identification, rent, utilities, and food for this largely underserved population.
Imagine the emotional upheaval of finally getting the long-awaited job only to realize you do not have the means to travel to your first day. The stress of losing one’s housing, utility disconnection, and hunger create more barriers to maintaining employment. MAC believes that assisting newly-employed individuals with transportation is an important step toward self-sufficiency. Since 1986, we have helped over 42,000 people with transportation. The price of weekly passes has doubled since 1997 from $12.00 to $23.75, forcing MAC to scale back its transportation assistance. Metro-Atlanta’s half-fare transit program for nonprofits only serves homeless individuals. This leaves the housed working poor with fewer resources despite their greater potential for stability. MAC participates in the half-fare program serving homeless clients seeking jobs, but must purchase full-fare passes for housed clients. Each week we exhaust our supply of transit passes and must turn away newly-employed clients. If selected, MAC will expand our transportation assistance to meet these growing demands.
Since opening our men’s clothing closet in 1997, we have served over 11,000 men with outfits for jobs and interviews. Looking good for an interview can make or break the outcome. Sometimes a pair of work boots or chef’s jacket can be the difference between being hired or unemployed. Through partnerships with Payless Shoes and a local Army Surplus Store, our organization purchases job-specific shoes and pants. MAC also distributes hygeine kits to help clients look work-ready. As with transporation assistance, our resources are limited. Our annual clothing budget is $2,400. If selected, we will increase the number of clients receiving specialized job clothing.
Having valid identification is a legal requirement to work. The $20 cost of a Georgia ID card can be prohibitive to employment. Through a partnership with Georgia Department of Driver Services, MAC purchases Georgia identification vouchers for $5 and distributes them to clients at no cost. Since 1986, MAC has served over 6,800 clients with Georgia State ID for employment.
Currently, MAC operates in donated space with a dedicated volunteer corps contributing an average of 5000 hours annually. With minimal overhead, 100 percent of donations directly assist the working poor. MAC is large enough to accommodate many requests for assistance and small enough to provide streamlined and efficient service. We gather input from our diverse group of volunteers and clients to incorporate their voices into our policies and procedures. As an organization with a proven track record, MAC knows what works. The Midtown Assistance Center is an excellent choice for the Job Raising Challenge.