School Bus to Flint MI

I left out early in the morning and like I expected it was a peaceful drive.  My only fear was getting pulled over, a flat tire, or hitting an animal.  I guess that counts for 3 fears but at the time it seemed like one fear.  The drive to a place you have never been always seems longer than the ride back and such was the case.  I did not know what to expect when I arrived in Flint MI but knew that poverty would definitely be one of the things I would see.  I arrived in Flint MI about 9:40am at a location a guy at my job told me to go to.  Justin, the gentlemen that orchestrated a shipment of water and volunteers to rendevous in Flint MI to help unload water at different locations, informed me to go to Great Hope Church in Flint when I arrived.  When I got there I saw no one there and called Justin.  He told me that the other volunteers had already taken care of the business at that location and he went on further to tell me to proceed to the Catholic Charities building in Flint MI.  So, I did.

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When I arrived it was cold and I saw approximately 20 volunteers unloading a long trailer full of water bottles and placing them on pallets.  Once each pallet was filled the pallet was moved to a spot on the parking lot where people would pull up in their vehicles while volunteers would load the water into the vehicle.  When I first arrived I was told that 1 person equaled 4 cases of water.  So, if a car pulled up and there were two people in the vehicle that would be 8 cases of water.  It was a simple formula.  So, I joined in doing whatever I saw needed to be done.  We had, at that time, more than enough volunteers.  I spent some time speaking with individuals that I work with and they informed me that the pastor at the prior location gave an impassioned speech on the situation in Flint.  I was disappointed I missed it but from what I gathered it was quite emotional.  I went back to unloading and loading water.  There were many people from across the country that drove up to deliver water as well.  There was always something to unload or load and I thought that the fact many people were delivering water was a very hopeful sign.  People arrived in cars, trucks attached to small Uhaul trailers, and even 1 bus to deliver water.

 

The arrival of the bus was the highlight of my day because it was a School Bus!  I saw the bus and said, “Man, they either want a lot of water or just dropping off a lot of water.”  The bus pulled up and we were told that it was there to deliver water.  I thought it was an unusual way to deliver water but there really weren’t any rules to this whole thing anyway.  So, I helped unload the bus but as I looked toward the front of the bus I thought I saw some kids.  As the bus was halfway done being unloaded I found out that in fact there were kids on the bus that were unloading it as well.  They were from a grammar school.  They were 3,4,5th grade students that came to help with their teacher.  It was amazing to see that.  I kept asking the children did they need help carrying the cases of water and they were quite definitive in their answer, “No! We got it!”

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Everyone continued to help out however they could.  Some of the water that was poorly stacked on the pallets sometimes fell over onto the ground.  One volunteer had his foot runover by someone who needed water but there was no serious injuries.  Volunteers would come and go, come and go.  There were volunteers from all over the nation:  Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, US Navy personnel were there as well helping load and unload.

 

As I saw the Flint MI residents pull up to have water loaded, one could tell that some of them had the look of struggle on their face.  They pulled up with their children, with their neighbors, pets, grandparents etc.  Some were requesting for us to give them water that came in the gallon rather than the bottle.  One of the volunteers said that those requesting gallons were probably going to use the water to cook with.  It reminded me as to how rudimentary water is to daily life.  Clean water that is.  As we continued to load and unload some of the members of Catholic Charities told us that we could come inside the main building and help out in the soup kitchen as well.  All the ground of Catholic Charities was dedicated to helping the impoverished.  This made it a perfect spot to host the water deliveries but it was quite apparent that the people of Flint MI, at least the part I was in, were already struggling to eat.  There were a line of people forming outside of Catholic Charities door.  I presumed that they were there for food and I later found out that that was indeed the reason as to why they were there.  Hour after hour the line grew longer until the hour came in which they were let in.  There were young, old, black and white that came through to either get water or food.  Volunteers were always showing up.  There was no check in, sign up process, just walk in and move what needed to be moved.  I asked someone as to what time the whole water drive was over and was told that whenever people stop coming, that’s when it was over.  I thought that that was a good answer and that man deserved a medal.  Vickie Schultz, who introduced herself as the CEO (im assuming CEO of Catholic Charities in Flint MI), came out and thanked everyone for the volunteer effort.  In hindsight, volunteers are desperately needed, as based on what I saw, Catholic Charities does not have the people power to feed the hungry and thirsty while Flint MI is still pumping out questionable water.  

The time hit 1pm in Michigan and I decided it was time for me to go.  So much more help is needed by those who simply wish to volunteer and by those who have professional expertise in engineering, construction, plumbing, etc… .  The political/administrative dimension of this travesty needs to play out without animosity but for the sake of justice.

 

I implore anyone who is not currently involved in a worthy cause to actually go to Flint MI and offer some type of assistance.  Please.

 

On my way back home I listened to a newfound favorite song of mine “Teach Me” by Blue Magic

The climax of the song goes as such:

How to love now
I’ve got to learn to love
Teach me to love
Teach me to fear
Teach me to feel
Teach me to touch
Teach me to hear your love baby
I want you to educate my love nowTeach me to Love
Teach me to hold
Teach me to need
Teach me to feel now baby
Oooh oooh oooh”
But I say it as:
“How to love now
I’ve got to learn to love my LordTeach me to love
Teach me to fear
Teach me to feel
Teach me to touch
Teach me to hear your love my God
I want you to educate our love our Father.Teach me to Love
Teach me to hold
Teach me to need
Teach me to feel now my Lord
Amen.
From trajedy the first thing we ought to do is offer up our prayer then love with our actions and commitments.  Yet, if we don’t have the divine understanding of divine love all other “love” is counterfeit regardless of how it makes you feel.  Peace be with you.
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