For my last post on volunteering in Flint, I wanted to write something similar to the post I did for volunteering in Greece. The Greece post has been hugely successful in that 3+ months after the fact it still receives several dozens of hits a week and I receive 3-5 emails/week from people asking advice about how to volunteer over there. Because of that one blog post, I think I’ve facilitated around 15 people going over to volunteer on Chios itself and a few in Athens. I’d like to think that a similar post about volunteering in Flint would be as successful.
While there is still plenty of news around the Flint water crisis, it is most definitely out of the national spotlight. In the beginning, there were many, many volunteers helping with the situation, but like any crisis, once that initial period is over, and media attention wanes, people forget that help is still needed. I think many people don’t even know that help is needed or that it’s possible to help.
This is especially the case for Flint where the solution to the water problem is many months out. Those people that I was delivering to water to who are not capable of getting water themselves? Remember that when I defined the problem, I wrote that a permanent solution will take at least 6 months to solve, the coating of the pipes (noted recently that unless Flint residents start to use more water, it will take longer), so that means that these people who can not get water themselves will depend on the Red Cross for home delivery until those pipes are coated.
What is the limiting factor in reaching all these homes? Volunteers. There is enough bottled water and I would think that this will continue to be the case unless officials want another firestorm. The problem is having enough people to work the routes to ensure getting to the 900+ households on the list once a week. My last day working, there were two drivers available, but I was the only “sidekick” volunteer, so only one ERV could go out. They don’t need large groups of volunteers, but a few individuals each week to go out on the routes.
The only requirements are that you be able to lift 25 pounds (roughly the weight of a case of water) and be tolerant of working in bad weather (although hopefully there will be no more snow!).
If you are interested in volunteering in Flint, whether for a day or a week, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me (via email in “About” section). I will be happy to put you in touch with the Red Cross coordinators and provide recommendations on where to stay. It is truly a wonderful, eye-opening experience and your work is very appreciated by both the residents of Flint and the Red Cross.