Youth at UU Fellowship at Stony Brook Assist Flint, Michigan Youth
" I am but a drop of water. Alone, I would disappear. Dried up by the scorching sun or sucked up by the dry, thirsty earth. But together, we can wear out stones, carve out the Grand Canyon, make streams and rivers, and find our way to the sea."
~ Kok -Heong McNaughton
Early in February, I asked our youth group adviser and Director of Religious Education, Gretta Johnson-Sally, if she would be willing to reach out to the UU Congregation in Flint Michigan, to see if there was anything we could do to help them during their water contamination crisis. One of our goals as a youth group is to do social justice work.
Over the past year, the water in Flint has been poisoned. Two years ago, Flint government officials changed the town's water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water (which was sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River (to which officials had failed to apply corrosion inhibitors). The water in the Flint River was contaminated with E coli, low dissolved oxygen, oils, and toxic substances that culminated with lead contamination, a serious public health danger. The corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal. In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead and they may experience a range of serious health problems. The people of Flint very quickly began feeling the effects of consuming this water. Now, people in the town of Flint can only drink from bottled water and are relying heavily on aid and donations.
Soon after we reached out, the Director of Religious Education in the Flint congregation, Erin Rockafellow, responded to us, informing us that what was needed at this time was money to help fill food backpacks for students at the elementary school. These backpacks would contain food and water, as well as other necessities the children needed during the water crisis. I shared this for discussion in youth group. We quickly agreed that we should send them financial aid, and have recently sent the congregation $100 from our youth group fund-raising. We felt that we should use our funds to help the children during this water and health crisis.