FLINT, Michigan, July 8, 2016 – A water resources expo and door-to-door canvassers are coming to the Civic Park Neighborhood this month as part of a pilot project to ensure hard-to-reach Flint residents have access to safe and clean drinking water.
The “What to Know and Do About Water Pilot Project” includes a water resource fair from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, at Joy Tabernacle, 2505 N. Chevrolet Ave. During the expo, paid workers will go door to door in the Civic Park Neighborhood to identify residents in need of regular service delivery and conduct a household survey about water-related needs. The canvassers will have water, filters and testing kits available for residents who need them.
The goal is to reach any residents who, for any reason, aren’t getting bottled water, filters or other important resources.
Civic Park on Flint’s northwest side is one of the oldest planned subdivisions in the country and a portion of the neighborhood contains one of the highest concentrations of lead service lines in Flint, according to University of Michigan-Flint research. It’s located in Flint’s 2nd Ward.
The water expo and canvassing is being coordinated by the Flint Grassroots Initiative, a partnership group based at Joy Tabernacle formed in response to the water crisis. Grant funding for the project came from the Ruth Mott Foundation and United Way of Genesee County. The canvassers will go door to door in the neighborhood daily for 10 weeks in order to visit every home.
“We’re reaching the residents at the grassroots level to make sure they’re not still drinking the water,” said Pastor R. Sherman McCathern of Joy Tabernacle. “We’re bringing help directly to their doorsteps.”
Four of the 12 canvassers were hired from a recent job fair at Joy Tabernacle. The rest of the workers are from Mott Community College’s Workforce Development Program.
The pilot project is the result of Flint water outreach meetings held with residents, the Ruth Mott Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, United Way, University of Michigan-Flint, State of Michigan and other community organizations. Flint residents identified gaps in services related to the water crisis and said they feared some residents are still drinking lead contaminated water.
“We listened to the residents of Flint and we heard concerns that some are not getting the information or critical water resources they need,” said Handy Lindsey, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation. “This pilot program was designed to reach every house in a neighborhood and make sure families have access to safe and clean water.”
The project will provide a template for the water expo and door-to-door delivery that, if necessary, can be replicated by community groups in other neighborhoods where residents are in need of water resources.
“The United Way is committed to responding to the community’s immediate needs related to water,” said Jamie Gaskin, CEO of the United Way of Genesee County. “This partnership is just one of the ways we’re helping Flint residents get what they need amid the crisis.”
At the Civic Park expo, residents will get important information about lead mitigation and will be able to sign up for Double Up Food Bucks, expanded Medicaid services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Water, filters, baby wipes and other items will be given out to participants, and a free cookout and musical entertainment are also planned.
From 1-2:30 p.m., a Flint water panel discussion will be held with representatives from the State of Michigan and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The pilot project is the result of significant collaboration among residents, grassroots organizations, nonprofits and governmental agencies. In addition to the partners already mentioned, others include American Red Cross, Civic Park Neighborhood Association, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Michigan Faith in Action, Michigan Works! and the Michigan Emergency Operations Center.