Community services threatened by loss of federal funding

By Kandis Webb and Justin Boron

Dorothy Dean Thomas finds a blessing at her door step three times a week.

The bit of good fortune is a bus that transports the 74-year-old Jonesboro resident where she can't take herself - the grocery store, pharmacist, and physical therapist.

But the service crucial to 286 elderly, sick, and underprivileged citizens may slowly be coming to a halt.

Consecutive years of grant funding cuts for the Clayton County Community Services Authority have put the social service organization in the red, said the Rev. Charles W. Grant, its director.

An $80,000 cut last year and a recent $4,200 cut could have dire consequences for the level of service the 40- year-old authority in Forest Park can provide.

For sure, a decrease of service or no service at all would mean desperation for the non-profit authority's clients.

"I'd be totally lost without them," Thomas said.

The financial state of the county-backed organization places heavy pressure on local politicians to come up with an alternative source of money. It especially corners elected officials like County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell who campaigned on more benefits for the community's elderly.

Bell said there was nothing the county could do about the loss of the federal grant money. But he said he would be looking for a way to fix it.

Thomas said she wouldn't be voting for anyone who she feels doesn't have her best interest at heart, especially when her only means of transportation is being threatened.

Grant said any change in the rules regarding the grants needs to be clarified.

He plans to sit and discuss the issue with the county commission to sustain what funding is left for his organization.

Besides federal grants, the community service group accepts money from any business that wants to make a contribution. For more information about the Clayton County Community Services Authority call 770-478-1659 or visit www.claytoncountycsa.org/home.htm.