As you all know the water situation in Flint finally climaxed and everyone is scrambling to help in various ways. Last week, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Michigan Chapter put out a call to action to social workers who are looking for ways to get involved at any level. More than 170 have responded so far, with offers to help ranging from water and filter distribution to addressing long-term health effects. We want to facilitate a strong response from the social work community and best utilize out passions and skill sets to empower the Flint community to recover from this crisis.
We’ve created an open volunteer list that will serve as an ongoing communication device among office staff, volunteer coordinators on the ground and volunteers. As needs arise we will put out calls to action and those who are available can contact us. To sign up, fill out this form: http://goo.gl/forms/HuUUB6mu2W
NASW – Michigan is also in the process of pulling together a task force of experts to think about long-term interventions. If you are interested in joining, contact the Director of Public Policy, Allan Wachendorfer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you may have noticed, there are numerous online campaigns raising funds, not to mention contributions from state and federal government and numerous celebrities. We recommend you donate wisely if you chose online donation campaigns. Be sure they are connected with someone trustworthy.
NASW – Michigan is not officially endorsing any form of contributions or any particular campaign, other than supporting the appropriation of funding through state and federal government. We encourage members to donate to the campaigns of their choice or donate their time. That being said, some of our NASW members have recommended the following:
- Some of our NASW members formed a small organization, called Crossing Water, and are helping us to coordinate ground efforts. They are working diligently to reach populations that traditional services have not yet reached and who are the most vulnerable and underserved. From time to time they come across special needs like plumbing fixtures that need repaired in order to install filters, general water shortages, or educational materials to help people understand how to use filters or that boiling water does not remove lead. Crossing Water started a small online campaign to fill in these unforeseen gaps and would appreciate any support: https://www.crowdrise.com/crossingwaterworkingforflint/fundraiser/lauriecarpenter
Metro Community Development set up a “Flint Water Shut Off Fund” to assist many of the residents who have received water shut off notices. Most of these residents are low-income seniors and families struggling with low paying jobs. The water rates are exorbitantly high in the City of Flint. If the residents aren’t able to get help with clearing their unpaid bills, they will be without water and the bottled water donations will not last long. Metro Community Development is a Community and Economic Development Private Non-Profit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. Support can be sent in a check to “Metro Community Development” and mailed to Metro Community Development, Inc., 503 S. Saginaw Street, Suite 804, Flint, MI 48502, Attn: Flint Water Shut Off Fund. For more information please contact Sarah Razak, Manager of Finance and Operations, at (810) 423-8630 or email@example.com.
- The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has established a fund to provide support to Flint children exposed to lead. For more information or to find out how to donate visit: https://www.cfgf.org/cfgf/GoodWork/FlintArea/WaterCrisis/tabid/855/Default.aspx
- United Way of Genesee County has set up a fund to assist with water, filters and emergency services: http://www.unitedwaygenesee.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=5
- Michigan.gov has created a website concerning the Flint water issue: www.mi.gov/flintwater. The site has information about water and filter sites, news updates, videos about installing a water filter and properly testing water, and much more
- All individuals who live within the city limits of Flint are entitled to FREE plastic recycling bins through Republic Services at no cost to them. This is so we can properly dispose of the plastic water bottles. The number to register is 888-872-7455. Residents should receive bins within 3 to 5 business days. Republic Services can answer any questions at the above number.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the doctor who played a significant role in bringing this issue to light, has published the following: Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Children Associated With the Flint Drinking Water Crisis: A Spatial Analysis of Risk and Public Health Response. Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2015.303003
By Allan Wachendorfer, MSW, LLMSW
NASW Michigan Chapter Director of Public Policy