Calling it "a Connecticut movement for Flint," Kenneth Hinson of AFSCME Local 184 (Metropolitan District Commission) recently led a group of motorcycle riders called JUST US that collected, delivered and distributed over 3,000 cases of donated bottle water to residents of the Michigan city plagued by a poisonous contamination of the water supply.
“When you work for a water company you appreciate the importance of clean drinking water. I knew I had to do something to help," said Hinson, a 17-year utility operator at the MDC, which serves as greater Hartford's regional water and sewer authority.
A barrage of news stories about the crisis -- how tainted water was giving residents sores on their skin, how difficult it was for those who rely on public transportation to get to distribution centers to pick up donated water -- moved the Torrington resident to action.
"I reached out to the motorcycle communities, and they reached out to friends, family, businesses, local union members and churches for help. We came together to do this for Flint," Hinson said.
Several Council 4 AFSCME unions contributed to the cause, including Locals 562, 538 and 704 (State Clerical), Locals 184 and 1026 (MDC) and Local 1161 (Hartford Housing Authority). The law firm of Trantolo & Trantolo donated three tractor trailers to transport the wager to Flint.
The Connecticut groups wasn't content to collect and transport the water to Flint. "We delivered it house-to-house to make a difference for the residents," Hinson said.
Under the leadership of Chairman William DiBella and its Board of Commissioners, the MDC got behind the effort, providing the necessary storage facilities for the donated water and donating the fuel needed for the tractor trailers to deliver the water to Flint.
“Kenneth exemplifies the spirit of community and helping people that is integral to all of MDC’s employees in the performance of their duties. We are extremely proud of Ken’s accomplishments and how well he has represented the MDC,” said CEO Scott Jellison.
The MDC also authorized qualified personnel to help safely load the over 3,000 cases of donated water on the trucks for the trip.
“It is important that one community helps another community," Hinson reflected. "It's the right thing – the humane thing -- to do. So we represented Connecticut by stretching out a helping hand to to the people of Flint.”
To learn more, contact Ken Hinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.