Mendota senior transport has no money, seeks help – Shaw Local

“I’ll be here 29 years in July and MASS is my heart, my soul and my life, being here so long. I just feel that MASS means a lot to so many people because of the things we can help them with.”

Executive Director of MASS Rayanne Sester

Mendota Area Senior Services (MASS), a transportation service for seniors over 60, is struggling with funding and considering closing.

MASS provides seniors with transportation to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, hair appointments, and wherever they need to go. They also provide caregiving services, social events, and help seniors with everything they need, such as Medicare and Medicaid applications.

MASS Executive Director Rayanne Sester said the program relies on half of its funding to come from donations and fundraisers. Because of the pandemic and some people who are struggling financially, Sester said donations are lower than usual.

Sester said even $5 goes a long way when paying for items, like gas.

“If people want to help us financially, anything helps us,” Sester said. “We are always looking for volunteers.”

Sester said the idea of ​​closure was a conversation the agency needed to have. She said closing the services would harm the area and the people the organization serves, and said MASS’s services and what it does are vital to the community.

“I’ve been here 29 years in July and MASS is my heart, my soul and my life, being here so long,” said Sester. “I just feel like MASS means a lot to so many people because of the things we can help them with.”

MASS used to hold as many fundraisers as possible to fund the program. Fundraisers include a spaghetti dinner, pork chop BBQ, garage sale, baked potato bar, quarter auctions, park lunch, and a Christmas bake sale. Due to the pandemic, the agency has been unable to conduct these fundraisers.

The other half of the organization’s funds come from federal and state funding, which has been coming in more slowly than usual.

For its transportation system, MASS owns two large 12 passenger vehicles and six minibuses, each accessible to the disabled. The service is on demand and brings seniors everywhere in the district.

Sester said the vehicles MASS has are aging and the Illinois Department of Transportation was unable to send subsidies for new vehicles until recently. She expects that MASS won’t have new vehicles until 2025, so they need money to make repairs and extend the life of the vehicles as long as possible.

More information about MASS and how to make a donation can be found on their website or by calling 815-539-7700.

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