Fresh water for Flint

East Detroit students dig deep to help city

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 1, 2016

 Students at East Detroit help unload cases of water during a drive to help the people of Flint Jan. 22.

Students at East Detroit help unload cases of water during a drive to help the people of Flint Jan. 22.

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EASTPOINTE — East Detroit Public Schools teachers, students and their families have stepped up to gather water and money for the people of Flint, who are still struggling to get potable water after reports that the city’s drinking water supply is contaminated with lead.

Students collected the donations Jan. 21-22 in the district’s classrooms and school buildings, according to East Detroit Federation of Teachers President Lincoln Stocks. In all, they managed to collect $1,000 for water-related needs and 600 cases of water for the beleaguered city.

Stocks said the idea came up during a meeting of teachers union presidents in Mount Pleasant the weekend of Jan. 16. He said he had been talking to Jacqueline Goosen, president of the Macomb Intermediate Federation of Teachers, about what they could do to help, and ultimately they decided on a countywide effort to get water and funding together.

“East Detroit decided that we would be the spearhead of it and work out the wrinkles (before other districts),” Stocks said.

The details were left up to the individual teachers in the schools to decide how best to motivate students to help, and Stocks said the classrooms that brought in the most water and money will get pizza parties courtesy of the union.

“We went around and picked it all up on Friday (Jan. 22),” he said. “I got myself a U-Haul, filled it a couple times, and had the basketball teams load and unload it when we got to the high school.”

Stocks added that the union was not going to distribute the water, but rather take it to local organizers in Flint that would handle distribution.

The donations were taken to Flint Jan. 28 by the Eastpointe-based company Albert’s Furniture and Appliance.

During the Jan. 25 Board of Education meeting, East Detroit Treasurer Margaret Podsiadlik thanked everyone involved.

“I commend the students on their water drive,” she said.

Diane Moses, elementary art teacher and East Detroit Federation of Teachers vice president, said at the meeting that the union had made a $100 contribution to the effort in the board’s name.

School board President Craig Brozowski said in an email that he is “extraordinarily proud” of the students and staff who participated.

“It is a great indication of the care and concern the folks in our district have for those who are in need, and they went above and beyond to help the people in Flint,” Brozowski wrote in an email. “Their efforts should be commended.”

Stocks said the effort was a “testament to the good hearts” of community members that they were willing to dig deep to help out, and that it was an educational experience for students.

“It was a great opportunity for the school community to help teach our kids to be citizens of the world,” Stocks said. “It was a teachable moment, and all our teachers and kids were pleased with the opportunity to have a civics lesson.”

Separately, the city of Roseville and Macomb Mall held water drives in January to help get more supplies for Flint.
Flint’s water supply was tainted following the city’s switch from the Detroit water and sewer system — which pulls water from the Great Lakes — to the Flint River as a temporary cost-savings measure. The river water was then not treated to prevent lead from old pipes from leeching into the water supply — an issue that was not publicly known until the fall of 2015. Flint residents have since been urged not to use tap water until the issue has been resolved

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