As a counselor at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Monica Jones knows this hasn't been the happiest couple of weeks at Detroit Public Schools.
Between teacher sickouts to draw attention to unsustainable teaching and learning conditions, more news about just how terrible the district's finances are, and scathing criticism from Lansing aimed at DPS teachers, "there's like an ugly air, like an ugly funk going on," Jones says. “So we wanted to do something positive. There’s too much negativity out there, and all that negativity weighs you down.”
So on Tuesday, the school put a challenge out on the Cass Tech Alum's Facebook page:
"We are holding a water drive at Cass Tech as an act of love and support for the city of Flint. Although as educators we have concerns, one thing we do not lack is our basic needs. In the midst of what may be viewed negatively, let's put a positive spin on this to help our fellow man."
The same post noted “Steve from Steve’s Soul food” would be donating his 18-wheeler to drive the donations up to a church in Flint.
And immediately, the response was overwhelming, Jones says. “I never put a number on it, because initially it started with, we have approximately 100 people on staff, and if everyone brought a case of bottled water, well, that’s 100 cases.
"And then the students started saying, ‘Well, we want to do something, too.’ So they started bringing in cases of water, and then the parents said, ‘We want to get involved too.’ And the alumni, they’re bringing in five, six, seven, eight cases.”
Soon, Jones says the UAW, a couple local companies, and at least four other schools – including Dixon, Osborn, Cody and West Side Academy – had dropped off water as well.
By the time Friday rolled around, Jones says they’d collected 800 cases of water. There was so much, they had to make two separate trips up to Flint.
“We don’t know what we started. There is no limit. I’m a little scared, but it’s a good scared!” Jones laughs.