The year was 1967. Fred Ruffing of Alexandria was faced with a dilemma. Fred and his wife Emily worked with a government-subsidized day care center in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. However, low-income families who left welfare and obtained jobs were no longer eligible for subsidized daycare for their children. Without such daycare, they would be forced to stop working and go back on welfare.

Faced with this “Catch-22” situation, Fred and Emily decided to do something about it.  They organized a meeting with representatives of eight local churches to set up a day care center to provide assistance to the working poor.  They marshaled support from the county and from local donors.  They succeeded in meeting the need, and the organization they founded – the Annandale Christian Community for Action – branched out into other activities, all under the banner of “doing what Jesus would do”.  Over time, the organization that started with eight churches grew until it reached its current membership of 26. The initial concentration on daycare grew to address a host of other needs: emergency food, delivery of basic furniture, emergency financial assistance, transportation to medical appointments, Meals on Wheels, and housing rehabilitation.

The daycare center is now the ACCA Child Development Center, which provides developmental childcare and early education for almost 200 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. For about 10 years, the CDC was housed in the facilities of ACCA churches. In 1977, after the closing Annandale Elementary School, the County leased part of the building to ACCA, and built an Infant/Toddler Center and a Pantry on the site.

The ACCA Pantry collects from churches, schools, community groups and local businesses and delivers food and other necessities on an emergency basis to area households. ACCA’s Emergency Assistance program handles financial emergencies such as payment for rent, utilities, prescription drugs, and minor car repairs for low-income families who have few resources to fall back on in a crisis. These ministries provide a safety net while the families recover stability. Furniture ministry volunteers collect and distribute gently used furniture to needy recipients, while volunteers from the Transportation ministry provide rides to medical appointments.