Zenaida Merlin during the launch of Sparkpoint San Francisco beside her partner Luis Estrada with whom she started the business “Merlin Catering”. Photo Deanna Jones, MEDA

A new service center to help low-income, Mission District residents tackle financial concerns is now underway.

The Sparkpoint Center, located inside Plaza Adelante at the corner of Mission and 19th streets, is one of five organizations sponsored by United Way.

The new center opened its doors on June 22 following a grand opening celebration. It is the 10th such center erected in the Bay Area.

“It’s a way that families can gain self sufficiency and get ahead in the world,” said Myrna Melgar, deputy director at the Mission Economic Development Agency.

“Sparkpoint centers are a one-stop-shopping place so that people don’t have to shuttle around town and waste time and gasoline or energy and effort to get the services that they need,” Melgar said.

Those services include advice on how to increase your income, manage your credit and build your assets.

“The Mission District is a very exciting place to be for one, because you have a strong vibrant immigrant community. And when we’re talking about can-do, innovative spirit, who possesses that more than our immigrant community?” said Ed Center, a United Way representative.

Center said the goal for the United Way of the Bay Area is to cut poverty in half by 2020 and they couldn’t do it alone, which is why they partnered up with MEDA.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wrote in a letter relayed via a representative, that Sparkpoint will “provide the community with wrap around social services to meet financial, employment, housing and educational needs for the underserved members of our community … Sparkpoint shares this commitment to building an economy that brings quality and opportunity for all Americans.”

Zenaida Merlin, a Sparkpoint client, praised the center.

“We came here because we wanted to start a business,” Merlin said. “Our dream was a food catering service, but we couldn’t do it without Sparkpoint because I have a child that is three-and-a-half years old.”

With the help of Sparkpoint, Merlin was able to jumpstart her business.

“It’s like I found everything here,” Merlin said. “We can continue with our dream.”