On July 29, 1982 a group of concerned citizens from the North Fulton area met with Mary Drake, a Director with Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Inc. (EOA).
This organization was formed by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. It was Mary’s charge to secure in-kind donations from the community to supplement funding from federal, state, and county governments. During this time, the growing need was recognized within the community north of the river. Mary knew that the public funding would be limited and invited representatives of local churches to discuss ways to assist the EOA. David Sonenberg, a member of Roswell Presbyterian Church, introduced the idea of a program and with Mary’s assistance outlined the need for a food pantry and a place that would assist with short term emergency financial assistance. A special account was opened, under the direction of Mary Drake and Frances McGhee, which was called North Fulton Community Charities. NFCC incorporated in 1983 and gained 501c3 recognition in 1988.
Working closely with local churches, synagogues, business and civic groups, NFCC developed into the primary source of emergency assistance in Roswell and Alpharetta (and later the new cities of Johns Creek and Milton). In 1990, the Board of Directors hired Barbara Duffy as Executive Director and opened a small office in the North Fulton Human Service Center at 89 Grove Way, Roswell. As demand for service grew, NFCC expanded several times into additional space in the North Fulton Human Service Center. By 2004 the NFCC Center was stretched to the limit of available space and the Board voted to identify and relocate to a facility large enough for the current and future needs of NFCC. After an extensive search, NFCC purchased a 20,000 square foot free-standing building on Elkins Road in Roswell. NFCC opened in the new location in August 2005. A successful $3,000,000 Capital Campaign was closed in October 2006 to underwrite the new operating expenses and acquisition of the building.
Thrift Shop, formerly known as The Community Clothes Closet (CCC), opened in 1971 (long before North Fulton Community Charities was established) through the support of six local churches who each agreed to supply volunteers and supervise operations for one week day. Participating were St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church, Roswell Presbyterian Church, Roswell United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, and St. David’s Episcopal Church. With volunteers and support from local churches, CCC called several Roswell locations home, until 1977 when it moved to the new North Fulton Human Resource Center on Grove Way. In 1991, CCC became part of the NFCC family. Some current Thrift Shop volunteers have been involved from the early years and have logged decades of service. The Thrift Shop is open to the public to shop at bargain prices seven days a week and retail income supports NFCC programs and operations. In addition, families who qualify for NFCC assistance shop in the Thrift Shop with vouchers.
Family Enrichment Program
In 2010, NFCC established the Family Enrichment Program to meet the needs of our community and to help families move toward self-sufficiency and financial stability. The Family Enrichment Program, which is free and open to the public, offers workshops and life skills classes in the areas of job readiness, GED tutoring, financial and computer literacy and ESOL. In February of 2012 NFCC expanded across the street and opened a dedicated Education Center. The Family Enrichment Program also coordinates the annual Back to School event and Holiday Program.
In 2013, NFCC launched a Mobile Outreach Program, with grant support from Bank of America. The goal is to provide case management, emergency assistance, and nutrition to low-income families residing in communities with limited transportation options. Our 35’ van is parked at sites provided by faith-based and other community partners, and families or individuals seeking assistance are seen by appointment.
Growth and Moving Forward
Over three decades, NFCC’s client base has grown, the need for services has grown and the support from the community has grown. NFCC now serves 5,000 families annually, distributes 9+ tons of food a week and assists local residents with over $1 million for rent, utilities and other basic needs. Residents in need of emergency financial assistance can also access resources and educational opportunities to overcome barriers and move forward to self-sufficiency.
As our NFCC motto says, Together, we can help.