Jaden Smith’s Foundation Is Bringing Clean Water To The People Of Flint, Michigan
The rapper’s organization and First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on Friday announced they’ll deploy a mobile water filtration system known as “The Water Box” that reduces lead and other potential contaminants.
Jaden Smith’s environmental consciousness was born when he was out surfing at about age 10. He saw plastic water bottles bobbing in the ocean beside him, and he was so upset by it that he told his parents.
Then he learned in school about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, those floating “islands” of garbage and plastic debris, and insisted that his family do something about it. The result is Just, an eco-friendly bottled water company founded by Smith and his famous dad, Will Smith. The company makes its packaging from almost entirely renewable resources, including “plastic” derived from sugarcane.
First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church has spent a year working with Smith to create the Water Box, a portable water filtration system that can fill a 5-gallon jug in 30 seconds.
“Essentially you could hook it up to the hose on the side of your house and it will filtrate that water,” said Catrina Tillman, a spokesperson for the church’. “This water box will help us further our reach in regard to servicing residents with clean water.”
The 20-year-old’s ‘JUST‘ goods company collaborated with the church to design and engineer the system. He is the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
The church has distributed over 5 million bottles of water to residents, but bottled water donations are on the decline. Flint has been replacing water lines after lead-tainted water was discovered in 2014. Lead began leaching from pipes after the city tapped the Flint River for drinking water without properly treating it to reduce corrosion.
(Mlive) First Trinity has been on the forefront of servicing the community with bottled water, Tillman said. The church began donating bottled water to residents weekly in 2016.
The collaboration began through the church’s partners, Black Millennials of Flint, who heard about declining donations of bottled water.
“We’ve been servicing our community on a weekly basis for the past three years, come rain, snow or sunshine we are giving out water,” Tillman said. “In the beginning we were doing five days a week but then we had to go down to three days a week because our donations have dwindled down.”
The church distributes bottled water to residents Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon or until supplies last. Cars are generally lined up three blocks around the church beginning at 8 a.m., Tillman said.
Donations allow the church to donate 28,800 bottles of water on a weekly basis.
“A lot of those cars we have to turn away because by 10:30 a.m. those five pallets of water are gone,” Tillman said. “We’re in the business of serving the community and we have to turn away people who’ve waited two hours, it’s very disheartening.”
After hearing about the church’s shortage of water, Smith wanted to help in a “grassroot” approach Tillman said. That’s when the conversations and conference calls began rolling.
“This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally,” Smith stated in a press release. “Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and design something to help them has been a journey i will never forget. We are planning to deploy more water boxes in Flint and other communities facing similar challenges.”
Smith visited Flint three separate times to work on the Water Box, Tillman said. The box utilizes the same filtration system Smith’s bottled water company, JUST Water, uses in GlensFalls, New York on a larger scale and compacts it into a portable water distribution system.
“We’re really excited to further our mission at First Trinity with servicing our community through clean water,” Tillman said. “This is going to be a very innovative grassroot way of doing it.”
The church has one Water Box residents will be able to get filtered water from. It has been onsite for several weeks now, but the church and Smith want to ensure the water is clean through a two-step testing procedure before distributed to residents, Tillman said.
“It was very important to us at First Trinity and Jaden to make sure this whole process is very transparent to the community,” Tillman said. “We do onsite testing ourselves with handheld devices and we also send out water samples to an outside lab source that isn’t affiliated with Flint at all.”
The church plans to launch a website where residents can access weekly test results on the water being supplied. So far, the water samples the church has tested have come back clear, Tillman said.
“We have used the filtration system with some Flint residents and so we have received good feedback which is amazing,” Tillman said. “I’m so excited about this. It’s been a true blessing.”
Aside from providing clean water, Tillman said the Water Box is great because it provides residents with a sustainable source of drinking water.
“We’ve been working on this tirelessly,” Tillman said. “Our congregation is older, so to have the men of our church who have been out in the rain, snow or sunshine every week for three years carrying cases of water you know that’s very tiresome on them.”
The church will still be providing bottled water to residents, but Tillman hopes the community will begin making the transition to using the Water Box.
“It’s going to take time, but our hope is that we can cut back on the use of plastic water bottles and they can convert over to the gallons,” Tillman said.
The church plans on distributing water with the Water Box very soon, Tillman said.