For One Couple, Flint Was the Promised Land

For One Couple, Flint Was the Promised Land
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In this ongoing, exclusive blog series for TheHUB, Lindsay Baywol and Gina Kim chronicled their summer experience in the Diplomat Fellowship for Social Impact. Part of an annual program inviting college students from throughout the country to contribute their talents to Flint, the fellowship exposed them to organizations and residents who benefited from their gifts. As fellows, Lindsay and Gina had the opportunity to take a firsthand look at those who make the city one of proud people and traditions. This week they share their thoughts about the person they encountered who best personifies Flint.

For One Couple, Flint Was the Promised Land

COMMENTARY By Gina Kim,  a student at Georgetown University and 2017 Diplomat Fellow

There’s a whimsical getaway off East Third Street, past the highway and the overgrown trees on Pierson Street in Flint. Visitors have said, “I can’t believe a place like this exists in Flint!” Just like their backyard–with its pond, copious gazing balls, and inviting lawn chairs–Bob and Ingrid are true gems. To me, they represent the spirit of the city.

Bob and Ingrid grew up in Flint. Ingrid moved here after fleeing Germany, following World War II. When her family arrived Ingrid’s mom was asked if she was ever homesick. She replied, “Hell no!”

After being displaced from their home Ingrid and her family found themselves not just homeless, but without work. A Lutheran church sponsored their immigration to America in 1952. Unlike in Germany, Ingrid’s family felt welcome and appreciated in Flint. When they arrived, they were given a furnished house with a refrigerator, a piano, and a doll house.

Ingrid’s father got a job as a tool and die maker in town and worked his way to being a design engineer. Upon retirement, he had 13 patents to his name. Like so many others in Flint, Ingrid’s father worked hard to support his family.

Belief in activism seems to define Flint.

When asked what drives people to Flint, Ingrid discussed how friendly and open the people are.

As Bob says, “Flint is a lot of things, but boring it is not.”

In Flint, there is so much to do, and most activism is driven by the community. This allows for true change. Ingrid’s work with Court Street Village reflects that. Her neighborhood was one of the first in Flint to have LED street lights installed. Residents were told it couldn’t be done, but they proved otherwise. Grant funding was allocated to help homeowners paint their houses. Although these changes might seem small, Ingrid believes they have improved the community.

Belief in activism seems to define Flint.

Bob and Ingrid found abundant love in each other, Flint and its warm-hearted residents. Photo courtesy of Diplomat

As Ingrid puts it, “The people who live here care about the neighborhood, and we pull together and see what needs doing. And can we get some grant money?”

This approach centers the problem on the people most affected. Despite room for improvement in racial relations and complications from the water crisis, Ingrid has hope for Flint. Her sense of community, positivity, and activism has inspired me.

I hope to be like Ingrid and Bob one day. They found each other later in life, but their love for each other, Flint, and their neighbors is apparent. I never imagined I would find such amazing people in Flint. But as Ingrid put it, “Where else would they be?”

Editor’s Note: Gina Kim completed her fellowship with Skypoint Ventures and returned to Georgetown University to complete her studies.

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