October 31, 2010; Source: Southtown Star | Southland Senior Services provides free transportation to day care centers, hospitals, grocery stores, and jobs for 3,025 special needs patients per month and up to 21,294 seniors every year. At least it did until now.

On October 21, the organization decided to close because of a $24,000 deficit in an annual operating budget of $320,000. In light of much of the news about nonprofit deficits, 24 grand doesn’t sound like a huge hole to fill, but it is for this organization, even after it reduced employee hours and laid off two bus drivers.

The group gets money from a couple of United Ways, a couple of townships, and the Northeast Illinois Area Agency on Aging, but the moneys aren’t reliable. The United Way of Metropolitan used to give Southland $45,000 annually, but that regular grant ended as of this past June. The board chair said that the organization couldn’t figure out how to stay alive given its shrinking funding sources. “If a miracle happens . . . we’ll stay open, but I don’t see it happening . . . If someone gave us money to stay open, we’d stay open in a heartbeat,” she said. Doesn’t this seem like a small number to hit to maintain a vital service to the disabled and the elderly?—Rick Cohen