GENESEE COUNTY — Thanks to the coordinated efforts of many local nonprofits, the response to Flint’s water crisis is in high gear. But the added workload is putting a strain on both human and financial resources. To provide some relief, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has granted more than $1.1 million to seven agencies that provide critical services for people in Flint and Genesee County.
The following organizations are receiving grants:
• Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties: $300,000 to support the ongoing operation of the North End, South End and Center for Hope soup kitchens; Center for Hope Warming Center, which last year accommodated 11,000 visits; and the St. Christopher Transportation Program. A second grant of $500,000 will help renovate the Center for Hope, located in the former St. Michael’s School;
• Family Service Agency of Mid- Michigan: $30,000 to support technology upgrades that will decrease wait time and expedite services for older adults and families in Genesee County;
• Food Bank of Eastern Michigan: $85,000 to increase food distribution through Carriage Town Ministries and Eastside Nazarene Compassionate Mission, two of the food bank’s 200 partner agencies serving residents who are food insecure, and $20,000 to support the Diaper Bank;
• Salvation Army of Genesee County: $100,000 for the Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Program, which provides emergency support when there are no other resources available to individuals and families facing eviction, foreclosure and utility and water shutoff;
• Shelter of Flint: $50,000 to support the One Stop Housing Resource Center, which last year provided services for 48,000 call-in and walk-in clients who were homeless or at risk for becoming homeless;
• Valley Area Agency on Aging: $43,000 to provide outreach services focusing on the city’s senior population, which according to a recent assessment is a somewhat “hidden population” in terms of Flint’s response to the water crisis; and
• Whaley Children’s Center: $42,000 to upgrade residential and administrative facilities, including furnace replacement, fire-rated furniture and a new stove that will replace the current model, which has been used to prepare more than 500,000 meals for Whaley children and staff during the past 10 years.
“These organizations are among the many helping Flint’s families deal with the water crisis,” said Ridgway White, president of the Mott Foundation. “The good news is that more and more residents are being connected with the services they need, but our nonprofit organizations are being stretched. We hope these grants will help those who do so much to help others.”
Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, which received two grants totaling $800,000, will use $300,000 to keep critical services — the St. Christopher Medical Transport Program, the Center for Hope Warming Center and the North End, South End and Center for Hope soup kitchens — operating at full capacity.
“These programs wouldn’t exist without the Foundation’s support,” said Vicky Schultz, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. She added that Flint’s water crisis has increased the need for all types of services, which makes the additional grant for the Center for Hope all the more important.
Centrally located in downtown Flint, the Center for Hope offers case management; access to counseling, mental health services, substance use treatment and recovery services; utility and housing assistance; basic medical checks; and referrals for food and furniture. It also provides a place of temporary shelter during the colder months for the county’s homeless, and with the planned capital improvements, a place where they can shower and wash their clothes.
Charles Tommasulo, executive director of the Family Service Agency of Mid Michigan, is using the Mott grant to upgrade the organization’s computer system, which will go a long way towards improving client wait time and service in the wake of the city’s water crisis, he says.
“The elderly, who are the primary focus of our work, often lack transportation or are dealing with serious health issues that make it difficult to access help. It’s not easy to install a filter if your eyesight is failing, or pick up a 35-pound case of water if you suffer from arthritis.”
“Technology has really changed the way we can help the seniors we serve,” Tommasulo said. “Not only can we track our clients more efficiently, but we can collect the data we need that can help improve policies designed to assist older adults.”
Since it was founded in 1926, the Mott Foundation’s support for its home community totals $981 million. To date, the Foundation granted approximately $41 million for emergency and supportive services related to Flint’s water crisis, including the expansion of community education activities to all Flint schools.
Additional funding supported economic and downtown development, job training and arts and cultural activities.