In 1999, an impoverished single mother of two walked into First Christian Assembly church in South Philadelphia and asked for help from Pastor Joe Melloni. Concerned, Pastor Joe began asking other local churches how they assisted individuals in need. The lack of response was troubling. Pastor Joe knew there must be a better way to help. The words of James 2:15-16 came to him: "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?"
The idea for Philadelphia Access Center was birthed in response to this encounter. The need was clearly not for just another service organization, but rather for one that could access the hundreds of existing resources in the greater Philadelphia area. In 2001, the board of First Christian Assembly met to commit their idea to prayer. First Christian Assembly began offering lay social services out of the church in 2002. Within a year, the building across the intersection from the church went up for sale. First Christian Assembly took a step of faith and purchased the building. In March 2003, the doors of the Philadelphia Access Center opened on the corner of 11th and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia. Since that day, the Philadelphia Access Center has assisted thousands of individuals in successfully navigating life crises and designing sustainable solutions for their futures.
The Philadelphia Access Center received 501(c)(3) status in 2001. While still a ministry of First Christian Assembly, this decision allowed the Philadelphia Access Center to establish credibility with other service organizations and donors. Today, the Philadelphia Access Center is staffed by professional social services coordinators, counselors, and qualified group facilitators. Though the faces and names of our staff and volunteers have changed over the years, one thing has not: our mission. We remain wholly committed to revealing Christ through compassionate service.