By LANCE CRANMER firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT – The first time Makeda Hunt drove a truck loaded with bottled water to Catholic Charities of Flint/Owosso to help the families suffering from the Flint Water Crisis, she witnessed an incredible sight.
“When we were unloading the van, a line of cars was coming up just waiting for water,” said Makeda, the Regional Manager who oversees National Church Residences’ Detroit portfolio. “I really saw the need.”
For that first trip to Flint last April, employees and residents of Wayne Tower (in Wayne, MI) collected about 100 cases of water.
After what she saw there, however, Makeda decided to pool all of her Detroit-area resources together and make an effort on a larger scale.
“I knew our regional conference was coming up in May and I would have all of my managers there together,” she said. “It was the perfect opportunity to put the challenge on the table.”
Makeda tasked her team with the goal of collecting as much bottled water, sanitary wipes and bottles of hand sanitizer as possible to help aid with the Flint Water Crisis.
“They exceeded my expectations,” Makeda said. “I was thinking I would have about 500 cases.”
Over a two day span on June 30 and July 1, Makeda went site-to-site collecting donated water from 15 National Church Residences properties.
“It resulted in a total collection of 726 cases of water,” she said. “Enough to fill up a 20-foot U-Haul truck.”
Makeda took the truck (that she personally paid to rent), along with five cars full of volunteers from various National Church Residences sites, to Flint on July 1 to make the donation – just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.
“I am beyond impressed with the amount of cases of water that we were able to collect and have donated to the residents of Flint,” said Sonya Brown, National Church Residences Regional Vice President, whose region includes the Detroit properties. “This exemplifies true teamwork between our staff and our residents, as well as each (of our employees) commitment to our mission.”
The Flint Water Crisis began in late 2014 when the drinking water supply to Flint, Michigan, was switched over from Detroit’s public water system to polluted water from the Flint River.
In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, donations poured in from around the country. But when the Flint Water Crisis stopped being a national headline, donations of clean drinking water began to dwindle.
“While we were there I had an opportunity to talk to one of the directors from Catholic Charities,” Makeda said. There was a semi-truck that they would store the water in when people would make the deliveries. At the time they were down to their last few pallets.”
According to the staff at Catholic Charities, the water donated by National Church Residences employees and residents was enough to provide clean water to 181 Flint families – each is allowed to take a max of four cases per visit.
“I was very impressed with Solberg Tower, who collected 160 cases, and Madison Manor, being our newest addition to the portfolio, who collected 100 cases,” Makeda said. “We have a lot of residents that are low income and financially strapped, but even the ones who couldn’t get out to get water to donate brought money to their managers that we used to go buy water.”
Makeda was proud of the effort her team put in to collect the water, but added that the water crisis in Flint is still ongoing.
“It’s nowhere near over,” she said. “What I found out on my last visit was that families that had newer plumbing, they were able to install water filters. Those that have the filters in their homes now have adequate water. For the homes that are still not up to date, those are the families that suffer the most and need the most water. They still can’t utilize the city water.”
The National Church Residences Detroit team would like to organize one more water drive before winter. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Makeda Hunt at email@example.com.
Properties that contributed to the water drive included: Lakeside Towers, Lakeside Villa, Meadow Creek Village, Clinton Place Apartments, Canton Place, Clark East Tower, Columbia Court, Romulus Tower, Solberg Tower, Madison Tower, Madison Manor, Wayne Tower, Park Place of Harper Woods, Eden Manor, and Evangelical Manor.