Water crisis in Flint spurs Tallahassee women to begin water drive
By Shamara Bizzle
Tallahassee residents Fayon Jones and Shanika Jackson didn’t know each other until they met over what they consider a social ill – the much publicized issue of contaminated water that is plaguing the city of Flint, Mich.
Each of them took a different approach to help provide a little relief for the residents of a city hundreds of miles away from their North Florida hometown. Both are on a mission with collection drives for bottled water that they will somehow get to Flint.
A few grassroots organizations in Michigan also have flung into action since the water crisis was disclosed more than a month ago, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declaring a state of emergency due to hazardous levels of lead found in the water source from the Flint River.
The issue has become national headlines as an investigation into the cause widens.
Jones is a single mother of five children and Jackson was unemployed when she the decided to get involved. The two women, who are Rickards High School alumnae, hooked up for the same cause through Facebook.
Jones was first to get the ball rolling with the local water drive after a conversation with a friend inspired her to take action.
“I was really unaware of the issues and I went home and did some research,” she said. “This could be in Tallahassee and I just got tired of looking at the news and not acting on issues that touch my heart or that felt important.”
Jones has involved her children, who she said she often makes aware of social issues such as the crisis in Flint. It became a teaching moment for Jones.
“I need them to see me in action.” she said. “Sometimes you have to physically be involved in something for it to matter to you. Even though we are far removed from Michigan, I can bring the issue to our community and maybe people will be inspired to help.”
Jackson said she was inspired to do something after seeing an Instagram posting by actress Keke Palmer.
“Right then and there I started to make a power point,” said Jackson, who went on to create a Facebook post of her own, asking for donations of water.
Jackson said she tried unsuccessfully getting assistance from at least one local relief agency. She refused to be deterred, though.
She reached out to city officials in Flint, asking for pointers on how to package the water, and then she set her plan in motion.
That she was unemployed didn’t seem to matter.
“If I have to spend my own money, then that is what it’s going to take,” Jackson said. “Even if it’s just the cases (of water) I send I just want to be able to help.”