(Photo above from Michigan State Building and Construction Trades Council)
Unemployed plumbers from Flint UA Local 370 installed lead-removing filters and new faucets to as many homes affected by the water crisis as they could. Then, a call for help went out to Local 370’s sister locals in southeast Michigan late last week; on Saturday, Local 370’s parking lot was overflowing with union members ready to help.
Among them was Dennis Shoner Sr. of Brighton, a retired member of UA Local 190 of Ann Arbor.
“It was organized very well,” Shoner said. “Representatives from each local handed out the work assignments and gave us our materials for the day.”
Shoner and a partner installed filters supplied by the State of Michigan and faucets donated by Plumbing Manufacturers International. The 10 homes to which they were assigned were located in downtown Flint near the federal courthouse, a neighborhood that 30 years ago “was probably the place to be,” he said.
The people living in that neighborhood — mostly retirees and elderly people with special needs — were happy to get help.
“But they were disappointed that we didn’t have water with us,” Shoner said.
When he returns to volunteer in Flint again in the next couple weeks, he’s planning to bring 20 cases of water so he can leave two at each home.
“Think about it,” he said. “How many bottles of water do you need to bathe? Do the dishes?”
Shoner, who graduated from Howell High School in 1968, said his day volunteering in Flint made him “feel good.”
“My wife put something on Facebook about being proud of me, and she must have gotten about 200 responses from people,” he said.
But the positive feedback was tempered with the reality and gravity of the water situation, which Shoner said feels “endless,” despite all the helping hands showing up in Flint.
“It makes you want to cry,” he said. “I feel so sorry for these people. They don’t deserve this.”
For information on donating or volunteering in Flint, click here.