Flint has garnered national attention for the Flint water crisis, but many problems still exist within city limits. The Flint Justice Partnership, founded in 2018, works to serve and connect with the Flint community and educate University of Michigan students about the Flint water crisis. The organization was started with support from the Michigan Community Scholars Program, a University living-learning community.
FJP recently launched a website with a list of resources to help Flint residents with COVID-related issues and basic needs. Nursing junior Lindsay Miles, a co-founder of FJP, said their website is easier to navigate and more concise than comparable sites.
“Our team put together this resource as a way to distribute valuable and necessary resources to the residents of Flint,” Miles said. “We have worked to consolidate resources from other organizations to solely include those initiatives that are both current and functioning, as well as new opportunities that have become available as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The website is organized by types of resources, with sections including COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, food, water, service line replacement and healthcare, among others. FJP collaborated with over 20 organizations and is continuing to update the website as they connect with more community partners.
As FJP’s online presence grew through their social media campaigns, other aid organizations asked FJP to highlight their causes. According to LSA junior Quinn Nolan, FJP co-founder, this initiative led to the most media coverage the group has ever had.
“(Someone) had DMed us on our Instagram asking us if we could repost some of her org’s information on there to get the word out,” Nolan said. “I realized that we have a reach now to the point where people are asking us to repost their stuff, then it hit me that what we’re doing is actually benefiting people a lot.”
Nolan said having classes become asynchronous due to remote learning allowed for the co-founders to devote more time to the organization, despite not being able to meet in person.
“Everything became much more flexible, so we were able to just keep going on with (FJP),” Nolan said. “We just decided that if we can help people, there’s no reason not to.”
FJP members have organized other efforts to help Flint through the pandemic, such as getting personal protective equipment to the community. LSA sophomore Jon Musai, a community outreach chair in the healthcare branch of FJP, helped establish a partnership with the Ann Arbor Sewing Center to send masks to Flint.
“That’s probably the most hands-on way we’ve been able to impact (Flint),” Nolan said.
According to Nolan, the decision to start the organization stemmed from a lack of coverage of issues Flint faces.
“When we were looking at Maize Pages and looking around the University we realized that it had become kind of an issue that had gone by the wayside,” Nolan said. “The news wasn’t covering the water crisis anymore. Flint’s already a very neglected town (outside the) water crisis. They have tons of other issues and government injustices that are going on there.”
Although the Flint issues FJP is generally concerned with usually relate to the water crisis, the focus shifted this semester to COVID-19 related relief, much of which involves pre-existing issues in the community.
“Right now, a lot of those surround the water crisis, but in the midst of the COVID pandemic, all these kinds of things have compounded,” Nolan said. “Now, we’re just trying to help people get food, help people get masks, help people get water still because many of them still don’t have clean water.”
FJP was recently awarded the national Call for Kindness grant for its community work. The grant is sponsored by Riley’s Way Foundation, which provides grant winners with funding as well as mentorship and peer-learning.
“The fact that FJP is still holding to its core values and extending its outreach programs to Flint residents during the pandemic, in which people need the most help, I think that’s been really great,” Musai said. “I think that’s a really strong virtue of FJP.”
Daily Staff Reporter Iulia Dobrin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org