PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – A local non-profit, that's provided jobs for the disabled for nearly fifty years, is now being forced to close its doors.
Southside Sheltered Workshop is more than a place where mentally and physically challenged adults are hired to work. It's a place where they socialize and learn. The organization is in financial trouble and may close for good but staff and employees are fighting to reopen the workshop.
"If we can get to the next grant cycle and the grant money starts coming back in to us, I think we could make it again," said executive director Beverly Mitchell.
The non-profit is $30,000 in the hole and is working to raise funds in order to continue educating and employing disabled people.
"This is one big happy family and I've learned a lot of skills here," said Eddie Martin, a 17-year employee.
Martin is worried that if the workshop closes for good he'll have a more difficult time than most finding a new job.
"It makes us feel good because it's money. It helps us to make money," said Martin.
Norma Yeatts began working at the workshop right after high school graduation - nearly 30 years ago.
She could think of only one word to describe a permanent closure of the workshop.
"Sad," said Yeatts.
Other employees say the workshop gives them a sense of independence and belonging. The group is hoping fundraisers will help them reach their financial goal.
The executive director says if they can't raise $60,000 by the end of this month Southside Sheltered Workshop will be no more. If you'd like to help, contact Southside Sheltered Workshop at 861-3018.