SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — While problems with Newark’s residential water filters were recently addressed, pregnant women and children younger than 6 years are still being advised to avoid drinking city water, even if it has been filtered, and to use bottled water instead. The city, home to 285,000 residents, has only two distribution centers for free bottled water for children and pregnant women. This vulnerable population is limited to just two cases of water every two weeks regardless of household size.
To help address the need for bottled water, the students of Seton Hall University’s WSOU 89.5 FM recently held a water drive. The cases of water collected will be distributed to Newark residents through the Women and Children’s Center at St. John’s Soup Kitchen. The station delivered the water on Oct. 17.
“Everyone deserves access to clean water,” said WSOU Sports Director Dalton Allison, who spearheaded the effort. “There is a perception the water crisis is over, but thousands of our neighbors fall into the category of Newark residents who shouldn’t drink even filtered tap water. Doing nothing or pretending the problem has been completely fixed simply weren’t options for us. As students and broadcasters, we felt a responsibility to act.”
Partnering with St. John’s Soup Kitchen was a natural fit for a radio station that is part of a Catholic university. Housed in historic St. John’s Church, the state’s third-oldest Catholic Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the organization has deep connections with local residents through its health clinic, women and children’s center, soup kitchen, and food pantry.
“When I spoke with them, they verified right away their need to provide safe drinking water for the people they assist and care for daily,” Allison added.
“WSOU has long been known for the music we play and our coverage of Seton Hall sports, but more recently we’ve also become known for our community service efforts,” general manager Mark Maben said. “Our students understand the responsibilities that come with an FCC license, including giving back to the communities we serve. The commitment our students have to replicating at the college level the public service and community-based activities of professional broadcasters is truly impressive.”
Photos Courtesy of Mark Maben, Jillian Fitzpatrick and Wilnir Louis