FLINT, MI — For more than a year, the YWCA of Greater Flint and the Flint office of Easter Seals have turned off their faucets, leaving staff and clients to drink from donated and purchased water bottles.
That was until last week, when Amway Corp. installed the company’s eSpring water purification filters.
“It’s a small thing with a big impact,” said Jeff Camboia, Easter Seals Michigan’s director of procurement and contract compliance.
Amway is trying to donate at least $100,000 worth of its eSpring water purifiers to community organizations in Flint that serve children.
The Michigan direct sales giant is in the final stages of identifying organizations in need of the purification systems for treating the city’s lead contaminated tap water
Before installing the filters, Amway staff tested both organizations’ tap water, and found it was considered safe to drink. The result was a relief for the YWCA, which was still awaiting the results of official water testing done two weeks ago.
“I don’t blame anybody for the delay because they have a big backlog,” said
Heidi McAra, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Greater Flint.
Still, she was glad to have two filters installed that will serve staff and clients, including those who are living in the organization’s Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services shelter.
“It gives everyone an additional peace of mind that there is a filtration system,” McAra said.
At Easter Seals, the unfiltered water didn’t have the bad smell or orange color that many residents complained about.
The disability services’ organization, whose Flint office is located at 1420 University Ave. West, decided to stop using the water after residents raised concerns in 2014.
“We didn’t have odor, and it wasn’t discolored, but that isn’t to say the water wasn’t contaminated,” said Camboia.
It wasn’t hard for Amway to reach out to Easter Seals because of the corporate giant’s three-decade support of the organization.
Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel said the the company has been looking for ways to help out, but had been awaiting direction from state and local officials. They have been inundated with offers of assistance in recent weeks as the story of the city’s poisoned water has made national and international headlines.
“We want to figure out where and how that can work,” said Van Andel, adding the donation of water filters is a longer-term solution that is a “little more difficult and complicated to figure out.”
McAra says she appreciated Amway reaching out to organizations such as the YWCA.
“It was good for them to look outside of the box to help those populations that might have not been immediately thought of,” McAra said.
She referred a Montessori preschool that is a neighbor in the same building, at 310 E. Third St., to the company for a filter.
Amway, which has a track record of giving money and supplying its products to areas impacted by natural disasters, is taking a two-prong approach to assisting with the man-made catastrophe in its own backyard.
In the short term, Amway is partnering with Michigan-based retailer Meijer and the American Red Cross to donate water bottles to Flint residents.
Earlier this month, the direct-selling giant launched an internal fundraiser to match donations by distributors and employees up to $100,000 to pay for water bottles that will be delivered by Meijer to Flint.
The company, headquartered in the Grand Rapids suburb of Ada, plans to give away at least 100 of its eSpring water purification systems to facilities that haven’t received water filter systems.
The best-selling home water treatment system retails for about $1,000. The eSpring uses both carbon block filter and UV light technology to remove more than 140 contaminants including lead, according to product’s certification by the Ann Arbor-based NSF International.
After the installations, Amway’s R&D team will return to the facilities to test the water and check the filters on a consistent basis.
“We are going to be there for awhile,” Van Andel said.
Amway sells health supplements, cosmetics and household products through a network of more than 3 million independent distributors, officially called Amway Business Owners or ABOs, in more than 100 countries.
Amway contacted its 51 distributors in the Flint area to see if they needed assistance, said Todd Woodard, vice president of corporate and integrated marketing communications.
“With all the efforts going on in Flint, we want to make sure we were doing the right efforts,” he added.
Article Source: http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2016/02/amway_donating_1k_water_filter.html