Ever since I was young, my parents stressed upon me the importance of volunteering and becoming a part of my community. I was told never be quick to judge someone but instead to listen to his or her story and be supportive, for someday I might appreciate the same kindness.
These conversations with my parents immediately came to my mind when I was reading the countless news stories coming out of Flint. The water crisis had taken over local, state and national headlines and the results were heartbreaking. The images of poisoned water and people demanding action stayed with me. I was upset and disappointed that something like this could happen in my state.
As I normally do, after reading so many headlines, I checked to see what the conversation was like on social media. I noticed after the news started to gain national attention, many people took to social media to express their outrage over how this could happen and who is responsible or to add in their two cents about the ongoing crisis.
After seeing so many articles and posts about the disaster in Flint and the needs of its residents, I realized I wanted to be a part of the solution instead of continuing to feel discouraged. I wanted to meet the people impacted by this situation and try to be supportive in any way possible.
Earlier this spring, I spent an entire day down in Flint doing just that. I worked with the American Red Cross and was able to help with dispensing lead reports and information and helping Flint residents when they arrived to turn in water samples. The process of collecting water isn’t an easy one, but everyone I worked with was understanding and grateful that I came “all the way from Lansing” to help.
Everyone was kind, welcoming and thankful that people were coming down to spend their time helping out their city. To these residents, Flint is not just another area on the map or in the headlines—it’s their hometown.
My experience in Flint was humbling, impactful and emotional. In the end, I was thankful to be a very small part of the solution. Both personally and with my work at the League, I will continue to do what I can to help Flint and its wonderful, resilient residents.
To get involved, visit the city of Flint’s How Can I Help page.
For more information on the League’s work on Flint, go to our Cities in Crisis page.
Also check out the other blogs by League staff on their work in Flint:
Immigrants particularly hurt by Flint water crisis (April 15, 2016)
A Flint resident’s perspective (March 31, 2016)
Angry about Flint? Be part of the solution (March 25, 2016)
— Chelsea Lewis