MLPP Blog: Factually Speaking

Hunger, poverty and the plagues of today

Added May 4th, 2016 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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I recently attended a very special interfaith seder. Part of the Jewish faith, a seder is a ritual in which a community or a family retells the story of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. While seders are always a powerful experience for me, this one was particularly poignant.

That’s because this was a “Hunger Seder,” following materials developed by Mazon, a Jewish organization dedicated to ending hunger. Instead of the traditional focus of celebrating the Jewish people’s freedom, this seder also looked at the people who are still struggling today, in particular veterans, and what we can do to support them. The program for the Hunger Seder said it best, “We come together today with them in mind, determined to realize our vision of a day when we will all be truly free from the oppression of hunger.”

On Passover, the Jewish people read about the 10 plagues unleashed on the Egyptians. Instead of locusts, frogs and boils, there are many modern plagues like hunger, poverty and abuse and neglect affecting those around us. And we need to change that.

At the Hunger Seder, we read aloud in unison each of these 10 plagues that are all very real today:

  1. A single mother who gives the last bits of food to her toddler while she goes hungry.
  2. A brother and sister in a rural community who live too far away to participate in the summer feeding program and miss meals during the summer months.
  3. A military family who struggles to make ends meet on the salary of a low ranking enlisted soldier and resorts to anonymously getting a monthly food bank at the local pantry to feed their children.
  4. A middle school student who doesn’t take the free school breakfast because he is ashamed of being poor.
  5. A senior who makes painful choices between paying for medicine or food, but doesn’t apply for SNAP because he finds the application process overwhelming.
  6. A recently unemployed mom who is worried about getting a new job that pays enough to cover her child care costs.
  7. A recent veteran facing difficulty transitioning back to civilian life and making ends meet, but isn’t aware of nutrition assistance benefits to help him.
  8. An American Indian family living on a reservation who faces many barriers to healthy eating, including severe poverty and unemployment, limited options for fresh produce, and exceptionally high food prices.
  9. A young family that lives in an urban neighborhood where there is no full-service grocery store, only fast food and convenience stores.
  10. APATHY, the greatest plague of all—the failure to make ending hunger a state and national priority.

Whatever the tenets of your spirituality and morals, religious or otherwise, we all should believe in helping others who are in need. And we all must be particularly vigilant against the plague of apathy and losing our compassion for others. Working at the helm of the Michigan League for Public Policy, I am proud to be part of an organization that is committed to doing this work, and as a supporter, you should be, too. But we also have to remember that we still have a ways to go. Most importantly, we can all take action to make things change.

Mass incarceration and the kids left behind

Added April 28th, 2016 by Alicia Guevara Warren | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Alicia Guevara Warren

Losing a parent to incarceration can be very traumatic for children. Not understanding why a parent is gone and can’t come home, wondering why he or she might be far away, being frustrated because frequent visits might not be possible all while the other parent undergoes tremendous financial and emotional stress.

In Michigan at least 1 in 10 children has been impacted by parental incarceration. This is one of the highest rates in the country—only Indiana (11%) and Kentucky (13%) have higher percentages of children who have had a parent incarcerated. As a result of mass incarceration and the “tough on crime” movement many children and families have been left behind in communities without adequate support and resources.

According to a new KIDS COUNT report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities, more than 5 million children in the United States have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives, including 228,000 in Michigan. With the recent interest to reform corrections policies, the report’s recommendations emphasize that children’s needs must not continue to be overlooked.

Incarceration destabilizes a child’s life in many ways. It causes stress and can have long-term effects on a child’s well-being. The report points to the trauma of being separated from a parent that when combined with a lack of sympathy or supports can increase mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. Losing a parent to incarceration can leave single mothers or grandparents with unexpected financial responsibilities—on top of the emotional strain—which can make it harder for the caretakers left behind to provide emotional support to the affected children.

Casey Incarceration Report_Michigan_Percent

Additionally, when fathers are incarcerated, the average family income drops by 22% leaving families unable to afford necessities, like food, utilities, rent and medical care for their children. The loss of income is only exacerbated by high court-related fines and fees, telephone calls, and costs to travel to visit since oftentimes the parent is incarcerated far away from home. The report cites research that found that if incarceration rates had not increased so significantly between 1980 and 2004, then the U.S. poverty rate would have fallen by 20% rather than remain steady.

The report points to three broad goals with specific recommendations in each:

  • Ensure children are supported while parents are incarcerated and after they return;
  • Connect parents who have returned to the community with pathways to employment; and
  • Strengthen communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by incarceration and reentry, to promote family stability and opportunity.

Michigan has the opportunity to make changes through sentencing reforms to control the prison population, increased funding for prisoner education and training, support for “ban the box,” removing our 17-year-old children from the adult prison system, improved reentry support and by facilitating access for affected families to financial, legal, child care and housing assistance.

Bottom line: as discussions to reform the criminal justice system continue, the needs of children must be prioritized as systems make decisions about sentencing parents in order to minimize the impact that incarceration has on children. All kids should have a fair chance to thrive.

— Alicia Guevara Warren

House Appropriations Committee takes major step to strengthen food assistance

Added April 25th, 2016 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

We are happy to announce that yesterday, thanks to the work of Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), the Michigan House Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to include $3.2 million in the state budget to restore $138 million in federal food assistance benefits for approximately 150,000 low-income households. These individuals’ benefits were reduced by an average of $76 per month due to changes in the “heat and eat” policy. Many of these households include elderly and disabled individuals.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been working with legislators and state officials to remedy this issue for several years. It was eighteen months ago that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declined to pony up some state money in order to continue federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for many Michigan residents. In 2014, Congress increased the amount from $1 to $21 that states would need to spend on heating assistance for certain households in order for them to receive higher food support benefits, saying the states in the “heat and eat” program were exploiting a loophole to increase some households’ food assistance by paying only $1 in heating assistance to those households.

bag of groceriesAlthough 12 of the 16 “heat and eat” states agreed to pay the higher amount in order to continue drawing down the federal dollars, Michigan was one of four states that chose to leave the federal money on the table. Rep. Irwin’s amendment funds and requires the state to spend the $21 per household to increase the SNAP benefits.

While some have argued that it is bad policy to use a loophole to increase food assistance benefits for certain low-income households, the League supports doing so because, simply put, SNAP benefits are too low. As long as Congress stalls in updating food assistance benefits to reflect the real cost of nutritious food for a family, states are justified in filling the gap in any way possible. As a moral issue, the well-being of vulnerable Michigan residents must take priority over “purity of policy.”

Fortunately, lawmakers from both parties agree, as shown by the unanimous vote on the House Appropriations Committee supporting the Irwin budget amendment. The Senate Appropriations Committee, on the other hand, has not added the money for “heat and eat.” The next step is to convince the other lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature to support the Irwin amendment. We urge readers to call their representative and senator to urge them to support adding $3.2 million for “heat and eat” when it comes to a vote on the floor of their respective chambers.

— Peter Ruark

State budget on the fast track

Added April 20th, 2016 by Pat Sorenson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Pat Sorenson

Early in my career, I heard a state legislator say that on a critical tax bill he had received two constituent letters for it and two against, and he was tired of being “whipsawed” on the issue. The message, while made partly in jest, has always stayed with me. Many legislators hear very little from their constituents directly, and when they do, they take note.

One of the most essential legislative tasks needing constituent input is the state budget. The budget reflects the Legislature’s values and priorities, and it is critical that it addresses the needs of all constituents—including low- and moderate-income families and their children. To that end, throughout the budget process the League provides information to policymakers and communities.

money 4 PNGThis year, lawmakers are moving quickly to finalize the 2017 state budget with the goal of putting it on the governor’s desk by the end of May (the budget takes effect in October of this year). Most state department budgets will be approved by both the House and Senate by the end of next week. In the middle of May, state budget experts will meet with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to make final estimates on the amount of tax revenue that will be available next year, and those figures will guide the final joint House/Senate conference committees working out differences in the budgets approved by each body.

There is much at stake for Michiganians as state lawmakers craft a final 2017 budget.

Health and human services: Investments in Flint continue to be critical and to date both the House and Senate have adopted the governor’s proposal for just over $15 million in the Department of Health and Human Services for nutritional services, child and adolescent health centers, community mental health, and lead investigations and abatement. Still to be decided is the legislative response to the governor’s proposal to expand the clothing allowance for children receiving public assistance and boost funding for family preservation programs for children in the state’s foster care system (both reduced by the House and Senate).

On a positive note, both the House and Senate agree to complete the expansion of the Healthy Kids Dental program statewide next year, and the Senate includes $23 million to address the shortage of dentists for adults with Medicaid coverage—a longstanding problem that has landed many Medicaid patients in emergency rooms and created barriers to employment.

Education: While there is agreement on general spending per-pupil, there is work left undone related to the Detroit Public Schools as well as a number of much-needed investments supported by the League including the expansion of child care eligibility from 121% to 150% of poverty, full funding for students at risk of educational failure, and an increase in the grossly-underfunded adult education system in Michigan.

Corrections: The League supports increased funding for reentry programs that can help return prisoners successfully to their communities and families. Over the past 30 years, Michigan’s prison population has grown dramatically and the state now spends more of its General Fund on corrections than it does on higher education.

Serious decisions will be made in the next six weeks that affect low-income children and families, persons with disabilities and Michigan’s aging population. The League will continue to provide you with information about the issues under debate, and we hope that you will do your part by contacting your legislators about the issues that affect your community and the state as a whole.

— Pat Sorenson

A thank you note to Michigan taxpayers

Added April 18th, 2016 by Rachel Richards | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Rachel Richards

It’s Tax Day! Today is the day that we acknowledge and celebrate all that you do for your state, your community, your neighbors and your families!

I realize that no one likes to pay taxes. The time it takes to find all of your documents and fill out the forms. The frustration over paying at the end of the year if you did not withhold enough. The constant stress over whether you did them right. It is frustrating. But it is also incredibly important.

The Upside of Taxes

The Upside of Taxes

n paying taxes, you provide our state with so much. Taxes pay for good schools, maintained roads, parks, public safety, a trained workforce, libraries, safe food, and so much more—and I wanted to take today to thank you for all of this.

Thank you for investing in our schools. My husband and I recently started enrolling our son in kindergarten at a local public elementary school. I am thankful that he will be taught by trained teachers who will provide him with a high-quality education so that he can succeed later on in life.

Thank you for helping fix and maintain our roads. The orange barrel season is upon us, but I know that road repairs will mean less in car repairs coming out of my pocket—fewer potholes mean fewer flat tires and alignments.

Thank you for ensuring that my community is safe. Knowing that I can call the police or fire department if I need them provides me with the security I need to live comfortably in my house.

Thank you for providing my family with fun activities to do all year long. Whether camping at a state park, playing at the local playground, swimming at the public beach or curling up with a new book from the library, your taxpayer dollars provide us with things to keep my family and me healthy, active and constantly learning.

And there is so much more to be thankful for.

Paying taxes should not be something to dread; paying taxes should be looked at as a privilege. We pay taxes so that we can invest in things that we need to have great communities, so that we can encourage business growth and create a place where people want to live. We, as taxpayers, provide these important services and should be applauded for doing so.

Thank you!

— Rachel Richards

Immigrants particularly hurt by Flint water crisis

Added April 15th, 2016 by Seema Singh | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Seema Singh

Allowing families of any background, including undocumented immigrants, to drink poisoned water is unconscionable. But immigrants have often been overlooked in the Flint water crisis, and to this day many are afraid to get help.

Three months after the governor declared a state of emergency, undocumented immigrants were still drinking tap water. Parents were saddened to learn that they missed information regarding the dangers of Flint tap water due to limited translated materials. Many didn’t know lead was a toxic contaminant or thought that boiling would purify their water. Boiling actually concentrates lead.

Other problems arose for immigrants once they did find out about the lead crisis and sought assistance. A few bottled water stations were initially asking undocumented residents for ID before handing out water, deterring residents from accessing water and raising fears of deportation. It was not until community members organized to draw attention to this abominable situation that the state announced no IDs were required to receive water.

FlintImmigrantInfoToday, while immigrants have received assurances that they will not be under threat of deportation for seeking clean water, many remain afraid. Flint residents at large lost their trust in the state government over the course of the past year as they received information now proven false about the purity of their tap water and the state’s measures to treat the Flint River water.

For undocumented immigrants who live in fear of deportation, reports of community members being asked for identification along with water being distributed by officers in uniform raised alarms and heightened fears of detainment and deportation. For now, these families must trust community groups and grassroots organizations that have worked diligently to inform them of their rights and provide them with correct information. For the immigrants left too long in the dark and who allowed their young children to drink the seemingly innocuous tap water, this is all too little too late.

This crisis illustrates why it is so important to provide basic services including healthcare to immigrants regardless of immigration status. While most families now have access to clean water, they still have limited access to healthcare due to lack of health insurance and cultural barriers in accessing the small number of community clinics that may take those without insurance. The Affordable Care Act did not extend insurance coverage to undocumented immigrants.

Without health insurance or identification, many immigrant families are not even able to have their kids tested for lead, let alone receive medical services. Among the many things the state must take responsibility for, it is imperative that every single child and family in Flint that was devastated by this manmade disaster, regardless of immigration status, is cared for and provided with immediate assistance and long-term health care.

— Seema Singh

Do kids really count in Michigan?

Added April 7th, 2016 by Alicia Guevara Warren | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Alicia Guevara Warren

Over the past year our state has received a significant amount of attention from the Flint water crisis—exposing an entire city to poisonous lead—and the deplorable and dangerous conditions of the Detroit Public Schools. These two incidents alone beg the question of whether kids really do count in Michigan. State leaders have become extremely focused on the bottom line and reducing spending so much that basic needs like clean air, safe drinking water and quality schools have become issues.

coverThe Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016 reveals further evidence of the lack of attention to the needs of all children and families. In 2014, the latest year of data available, nearly half a million Michigan children lived in poverty. That is a 23 percent rate increase from 2006. Child poverty also increased in 80 of 83 Michigan counties since 2006, showing it is an issue in every corner of the state. In fact, all three measures of economic security examined in the book showed that more families are struggling to make ends meet.

We know that poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, harming their education, physical health, socioemotional health and long-term financial security. That means that we must ensure that every child has the ability to reach their potential in order for Michigan to have a vibrant future. But significant economic disparities exist by age and race and ethnicity. Younger children are more likely to live in poverty. Almost half of African-American and nearly one-third of Latino children live in poverty. There are clearly still many structural and institutional barriers to opportunity and access that inordinately hurt people of color, and these must be eliminated to improve the well-being of all children.

The data also show that since 2006, more children are living in families investigated for child abuse and neglect—up 52 percent—and more are also being confirmed as victims. In 2014, nearly 15 of every 1,000 kids suffered from abuse or neglect, an increase of 29 percent since 2006. However, after a lawsuit resulted in a consent decree to improve safety, permanency and well-being for children in the child welfare system, the state has had fewer children placed in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect. Compared to 2006, the out-of-home care rate has declined by 31 percent. It is apparent that targeted efforts in foster care have worked. But more needs to be done to prevent child abuse and neglect upfront to keep children out of the system altogether.

A few other startling statistics from the 2016 Kids Count Data Book include:

  • 32 percent of children live in a household where no parent has secure employment;
  • Nearly 80 percent of young children (ages 0-5) had both parents in the workforce;
  • On average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings; and
  • 17 percent of children in Michigan live in high-poverty neighborhoods, including 18 percent of American Indian, 55 percent of African-American and 30 percent of Latino children. These rates for Michigan are some of the highest in the country.

There are some bright spots in the data. Michigan is doing a better job at the teen birth rate—although it is still higher than in any other industrialized nation and more work needs to be done. The infant mortality rate improved by 10 percent over the trend period; however, while the gap is closing, the rate for African-American or Black babies is still much higher than average. Plus, troubling trends are emerging for Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander infant mortality rates.

These numbers illustrate the current landscape Michigan kids are living in. But now what?

Clearly there is much work to be done to improve the lives of kids and their families. Nationally, Michigan has fallen two years in a row in our overall child well-being rank to 33rd in 2015 and we rank last in the Midwest.

For 25 years now, the Michigan League for Public Policy has been producing the Kids Count report to make sure Michigan kids have a voice in the policies that are affecting them. Our goal is to have these books in the hands of local advocates and state policymakers, not collecting dust on a shelf.

It’s time to take action before Michigan becomes an unrecognizable place where we do not want our kids to grow up. We urge lawmakers and concerned residents to take a look at this report, especially the numbers in your county, and act on our recommendations. Kids still count in our book, but a lot more needs to be done to make them count in the State Capitol.

— Alicia Guevara Warren

You are most important part of budget process

Added April 6th, 2016 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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I hope you are all experiencing some type of spring “break,” whether it’s a full family vacation or just getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather. But the onset of spring means another season is upon us—budget season. That means that we have to get our rest and relaxation in now so that we’re energized and ready to get to work when legislators return to the Capitol on April 12th.

We are hearing that the full House Appropriations Committee will be taking up the education omnibus budget that covers funding for K12 schools, community colleges and higher education the first week back. The committee is expected to move the general government omnibus the following week, April 19th-21st. They are expected to move quickly, as are the Senate budgets.

Completing a budget in early summer has been a goal for recent Legislatures, and one they have been succeeding at. This earlier timeline has been particularly beneficial to schools, who know where their funding stands prior to the start of a new school year. However, the accelerated budget process has also had some negative consequences, as the need to move quickly has sometimes been at the expense of thorough deliberation and review. Speed is not the measurement of a good budget—its content is. And too often, an imaginary deadline takes precedent over real programs for real people.

The state budget is an indicator of our values, as our priorities are defined by what we are willing to pay for. In the Capitol, there is a limited amount of money to work with each year, and legislators invest in what is important to them. Sometimes that aligns with the needs of their districts and constituents. Other times, it is driven more by political consideration.

If we agree that the state budget is our values statement, then we have much to be concerned about. For the last ten years, the Legislature has been cutting the budget, hurting our communities, our schools, our local infrastructure and our roads. Some of that money, $1.6 billion, to be exact, went to business tax cuts that didn’t help our economy. While there are many different issues with state government that led to the Flint water crisis and the deterioration of Detroit schools, these problems were borne out of bad budget decisions. A business mindset and a hyperfocus on the bottom line meant that the Legislature lost sight of the needs of the people government is supposed to serve.

The League has always seen the connection between fiscal policy and social policy. We are dedicated to promoting equity and economic opportunity and independence for all. A majority of that work lies in pushing for state investment in the programs and services that people depend on to make ends meet and support their families.

From the moment the governor announces his initial budget each year, we get to work on both analysis and advocacy. The League released a first look at the governor’s 2016-2017 budget in February, outlining the pros and cons of the initial budget proposal. We will continue to provide Budget Briefs on other issues as the budget progresses.

The League has testified on budget proposals to make sure the concerns of the people we serve are heard. This includes supplemental budget funding to address the Flint water crisis, as well as appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services, funding for adult education and the budgets for School Aid and the Department of Education.

But the most important person or organization in the budget process is YOU, and the time to act is NOW. You have the power to make a difference and stand up for the budget priorities you believe in. We encourage you to get involved and act as an advocate for yourself, your organization, your neighbor, your school or your community. We will also be emailing out Action Alerts on different budget bills as they come up to outline how you can help.

We can’t let the pace of the budget process interfere with our advocacy. As things get underway next week, I hope you’ll continue to join us in the fight for a budget that works for everyone.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

A Flint resident’s perspective

Added March 31st, 2016 by Katrina Khouri | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Katrina Khouri

My name is Katrina Khouri and I recently worked as the League’s Kids Count Project Intern. I am a Flint native—born, raised and proud to still live in a great city among folks who are some of the kindest, most resilient and generous I know.

Health-and-safety-377-by-386There is no doubt that most children in my hometown of Flint face hardship daily and my city has seen better days. A once prosperous center of the auto industry and the Midwest, with abundant opportunity for autoworkers, small businesses and thriving communities, Flint has seen its heyday.

But that expired in the late 1970s when the auto industry began to decline. Deindustrialization and urban decay soon followed and opportunity for all fell short. Today, the city’s population is half of what it was in the 1960s, the poverty rate is over 40%, crime is rampant, the school system is rife with problems, and local democracy has been taken over by state regulation.

Now, as if the city didn’t have enough nightmares, the drinking water is poisoned with lead. Tests have shown that the number of children with lead exposure has nearly doubled since the water source was changed in 2014.

The League’s recent fact sheet, A poison all around us: The threat of lead in Michigan, describes the scope and effects of lead exposure, not just in Flint, where attention has been rightfully placed due to the lead in the drinking water, but across the state. In Michigan, there are other hotspots of increased blood lead levels and at-risk populations, primarily in low-income communities where many children already face other adversities.

Percentage of lead poisoning and poverty ratesYears of funding cuts to infrastructure and state human services have weakened the support system for the state’s most vulnerable populations and hurt the well-being of all people. Perhaps the recent media attention that has unearthed some of state government’s failures in Flint will defog the Legislature’s lenses, so they will prioritize the well-being of Flint residents and those in other troubled cities in Michigan.

With funding for proper interventions that look at public health and community infrastructure, as well as state policies related to early education and care, family income supports, housing, nutrition, and access to mental health and substance abuse services, the Legislature can help minimize the effects of lead toxicity on children in Flint and other communities around Michigan.

As a Flint resident, I’ve seen the adversity that plagues my city, but I’ve also seen the perseverance and resiliency that manifests within its people. With the great spirit of my fellow Flintstones, combined with the media focus on government failures to protect our citizens as well as swift legislative action to provide immediate wraparound services to Flint’s children, I have hope for a brighter future in Flint; and hope that with transparency and accountability, state government will do what’s right for our citizens and our future—our children.

— Katrina Khouri

 

Angry about Flint? Be part of the solution

Added March 25th, 2016 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

The idea that an entire city is at risk of lead exposure because of its drinking water brings out many emotions: fear, anger, sadness, helplessness.

The people most at risk are low-income children whose families do not have the option to stay elsewhere and can’t afford to buy bottled water for their daily needs. Such families often do not have access to healthy foods that help the body flush out lead, or the ability to make multiple trips to the doctor. We read the stories and we wonder what we can do in response.

this weekend with crossing waterWell, there is something many of us can do: we can volunteer with an organization called Crossing Water to deliver water and water filters to people in Flint who are affected by the crisis.

Crossing Water sends out “rapid response service teams” each Saturday and Sunday to households who have expressed that they are in need. The teams do many things, including the following:

    • Deliver bottled water to families without transportation, who have no way to get water and bring it back to their homes.
    • Deliver bottled water to elderly homebound individuals.
    • Check kitchen water filters to make sure they are working properly, install filters on kitchen taps that don’t have them, replace outdated filter cartridges, and educate households on the use and maintenance of the filters.
    • Talk with parents who are concerned about their children’s health and link them with medical or social services if necessary.
    • Deliver baby wipes to parents with newborns because they are advised not to give them baths.
    • Provide verbal encouragement when needed.

I have volunteered one weekend day with Crossing Water each of the past five weekends, and visited approximately 25 homes as part of a rapid response team. During these visits I have talked with:

    • A mother in tears because her 13-year-old son’s hair has been falling out and her doctor did not test for lead as promised.
    • A man whose home was stripped by metal thieves and has no running water, but remained optimistic and had a can-do attitude as he prepared to move to a different city with relatives.
    • An energetic and outgoing 83-year-old “block grandmother” who looks out for her neighbors, has lived in her beautiful home for more than 50 years, and is a cancer survivor who volunteers at the hospital encouraging and helping cancer patients.
    • A middle-aged couple who have been running hot water through their kitchen water filter, unaware that doing so destroys the filter cartridge.
    • A family whose kitchen tap water comes out the color of coffee.
    • A woman who was told by a friend that she should put bleach in her bath water and wondered if her skin rashes might have been caused by that.

While visiting four to six homes in an afternoon might seem like it is not making a big difference in addressing the overwhelming need, it makes a big difference in the lives of the people being helped. The more volunteers, the more people helped.

If you have read this far and find it in your heart and within your ability to be part of the solution in Flint, I urge you to sign up to volunteer with Crossing Water. Rapid response team volunteering on Saturday or Sunday is from 1:00-6:30, including training and debriefing. If you would rather volunteer on a weekday, you can help deliver water at 10am or 3pm.

The Flint water crisis has dominated the news for months, but when the media coverage begins to fade and the attention of Michigan and the country turns elsewhere, the people of Flint will continue to need help. Please consider being part of the solution and come out to Flint to volunteer.

— Peter Ruark

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