Flint means family.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Flint at the age of 10. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I’m so glad mom decided to move us here because I am having the best time of my life."
The other children Cook Elementary School were very welcoming and nice to me and my two brothers. One of the biggest things I noticed is that the kids seemed so happy … and I would soon find out why.
Flint is well known across the country for its competitive sports programs (especially football and basketball). The school gyms and fields would be packed on game and practice days.
After attending a few games for myself, I was in love. Thanks to dedicated coaches and athletic directors, I became one of the most fundamentally sound players on the team by fifth grade. The boys on the basketball team became my brothers and lifelong friends. They were family. They are family.
When school was out for the summer, I had the privilege to play on Flint’s summer leagues and participate in the CANUSA games—one of the funnest experiences I have ever had in my life.
Within a few months, I was able to visit and learn about some really cool—and historical—places in my new hometown. Back then, people outside of Flint had to order their Koegel hotdog and polish sausage by mail—because Flint and only Flint was home to Koegel's factory. Then, I learned about Buick City, famous to the world for massive automobile manufacturing, and that my hometown was the birthplace of General Motors back in 1904.
People flooded by the thousands to this city called Flint, Michigan, drawn by the offer of good jobs and a thriving community.
Fast forward to today. We have had our ups and downs, but throughout its adversities, Flint always displays a undeniable amount of strength and ability to adapt.
In response to the water crisis, I am proud to say that I was apart of an outreach program created by the Department of Environmental Quality to serve the community. Called the Flint Water Response, we were known to most as Flint Core. In this work, I installed free water filters to all residents and provided water filter education. We also offered water test kits so residents could test their own water.
Talking with residents everyday as part of the water crisis response, I learned that the spirit of the city is still very strong. Certainly some residents have negative views and concerns, but the majority of residents I met expressed their optimism and certainty that this problem would be rectified.
Because this community cares. And this community takes care of each other.
The compassion and support Flint showed me and my family was nothing short of a miracle. My wife, Lee, gave birth Jan. 15, 1998, to our son Collin Kris Adams. After three months in intensive care, doctors diagnosed him with chromosome deletion syndrome—a rare disease that caused him to develop pneumonia and required multiple surgeries. Ultimately doctors recommended we move to a warmer climate to better protect his health.
As a family of nine, we struggled financially. My wife and I sold everything we owned in a yard sale, even our wedding rings.
But, it wasn’t even close to enough.
We started a fundraiser and circulated flyers throughout the community. It landed on somebody’s desk at The Flint Journal and from there the story made it onto two other local television stations.
The people of Flint were there for us. Beyond our wildest dreams.
Residents came to our home and prayed with my family and me. We were able to obtain nine plane tickets to Florida, get a house, and have our things moved by a moving company.
The support love and compassion that the city of Flint showed my family and me brought tears to my eyes then and it still does today. It will never be forgotten.
This is my family and my home. That’s what Flint means to me.
Louis Adams is Flintside's newest contributor. Look for his articles in the weeks ahead.