Woman moves to Flint, chooses to stay to help water crisis victims

FLINT, Mich. – Marseille Allen moved to Flint at what some might consider the worst possible time.

She relocated there in August following a promotion to lead probation agent in the Michigan Department of Corrections' central office in Lansing.

After news of the Flint water crisis broke, Allen could have decided to leave. Instead, she decided to stay and work to help the people directly affected by the crisis.

"This is my adopted home. I was born and raised in Detroit. I know what it's like to be in a city that's neglected. And, so, the residents of Flint feel like they've been neglected. And at least, as an adopted daughter of Flint, I can do something," Allen said.

She started delivering water to help residents and posted about it on her Facebook page.  Then, she created the Water for Flint-WFF page in January after family and friends living out-of-state requested a way to donate and help her cause.

She also entered and won $10,000 in a GoFundMe contest for her cause. That, and all the money she raises, is used to help Flint residents with water and other needs. As of late May, her page has received more than $59,000 in donations.

"I don't have my own money to go out and spend, you know, tens of thousands of dollars, but people from around the world wanted to help, and so, I'm that vessel for them,"  Allen said.

Allen doesn't just buy the supplies for residents, she also delivers them to their door.  

Local 4 caught up with her during a recent distribution day in which volunteers delivered water, wipes, and oranges. She said they chose oranges because some doctors believe they may decrease the impact of lead poisoning.

Her army of volunteers often comes from members of United Auto Workers Local 6000.

"We give them at least 10 cases of water. In case we run across someone who has multiple children or the elderly, we call it dumping. So, we'll dump twenty or more cases of water for that house," Allen said.

The door-to- door distribution is particularly helpful for the elderly. Often times, they can't lift the heavy cases of water. Families with small children also benefit from Allen's deliveries.

"This is really great. This is really great. I am so thankful for them because people do care. And they have been showing how much they do care by coming through the neighborhood and by even setting up water distribution centers," Lois Bunton, a Flint resident said.

Volunteers, both young and old, have come to help and show their support for Allen's work.

"They feel like they're doing something. And it's a good lesson to learn that they're fortunate and there are people out there who are less fortunate than them," Allen said. "I feel really blessed and really lucky to know that it's not only Flint residents caring about Flint residents, but it's people from around the country. I've received donations from as far as Kenya. People around the world recognize this tragedy and they want to help."

How to help

The next distribution date is June 12, and Allen said she is always looking for volunteers.  Anyone who is interested in volunteering can email President@warriorstrustfund.org, or call 800-243-1985 (UAW LOCAL 6000).

Online donations can be made online here.

Special section: the Flint Water Crisis