Valparaiso Rotary Club Stands Up Against East Chicago Water Crisis

Valparaiso Rotary Club Stands Up Against East Chicago Water Crisis
By: Taylor Irby Last Updated: May 16, 2017

Northwest Indiana is rallying around East Chicago, Indiana to bring affected residents clean water. Many groups are doing what they can to donate money or cases of bottled water to people in the lead contaminated zone.

One of those groups was the Valparaiso Rotary Club. The Rotary Club took notice and worked together to raise $1,000 to donate to the cause. The Rotary is an organization that provides humanitarian services and helps build goodwill around the world. East Chicago needs help, and members are answering the call.

One of those members is named Frank Szczepanski. He is upholding the Rotary values of service and goodwill by helping Northwest Indiana groups and businesses get water and money donated to families in East Chicago. He does a lot of logistical work, from helping people find donation centers to purchasing water bottles with the money donated to the cause.

“I understand the connection between these metals and healthcare problems because I run a biotech company," explained Szczepanski. "My mother still lives in East Chicago, I have a direct connection because I grew up there.”

According to Szczepanski, the money will directly go into water needs in East Chicago. 4,000 people are affected, and each household needs water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. The lead-contaminated water can cause a wide range of issues from rash to cardiovascular problems in adults, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. To protect themselves from the water, East Chicago residents in the affected areas need a total of about 980 cases each day, according to Szczepanski. Families currently receive two cases every day when it’s available.

With the money, Szczepanski will be able to purchase 7 pellets of water, which equals out to 588 cases of water bottles to be dropped off to families in East Chicago. Since January, Szczepanski has helped nearly 80,000 bottles of water go from groups in Northwest Indiana to East Chicago.

“Clean water is a human right, not a privilege,” said Szczepanski.

There are donations points throughout Northwest Indiana. Living Hope Community Church in Valpo is one of them. Cases of water can be dropped off, just be sure to schedule a time first.

“We’ve provided one of many donations,” Szczepanski said. “Church groups, Girl and Boy Scout troops, schools, and business have all helped out as well.”

Szczepanski is willing to answer questions about donation zones, donations, or how to get involved and can be reached at 219-840-0007.

For a list of drop-off locations, click here.