Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is one of ten cities completing the second year of our City Hall AmeriCorps VISTA Love Your Block program. With support and two AmeriCorps VISTA members from Cities of Service, the Milwaukee Love Your Block team has worked with resident volunteers to make their neighborhoods better places to live. And when COVID-19 hit the city, they supported residents who were helping their neighbors weather the pandemic.
Check out a few highlights demonstrating the hard work of city staff, AmeriCorps VISTA members, and residents who love their communities and their block.
There’s nothing like a sidewalk chalk drawing to lift spirits. The city purchased 3,150 pieces of jumbo chalk to be dispersed throughout nine Milwaukee neighborhoods. The Love Your Block team and local partners distributed bags with three pieces of chalk along with a note encouraging recipients to leave positive messages for their neighbors. Washington Park’s United Methodist Children’s Services added an extra special touch by providing children’s books, frisbees, flower pinwheels, and mini beach balls in the bags of chalk.
Milwaukee’s Love Your Block team created the Caring Community Mini-Grant initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mini-grants were given to residents helping others during the health crisis.
Marion Clendenen-Acosta (pictured above, left) and her family have been making face masks for the community since late March, joining JoAnn Fabrics’ campaign mobilizing volunteers to make and distribute masks for healthcare workers. She delivered her first batch of masks to Froedtert Hospital. With Caring Community Mini-Grant funds from Love Your Block, she and her family will continue making masks to the community.
Lakesha Ward has also been making face masks for her neighbors. She works in Child Welfare for the state and felt the need to serve the community while working remotely from home. She made 200 masks before applying for the mini-grant. Lakesha used her Caring Community Mini-Grant to make another 142 face masks and 4 face shields, which she donated to a group home, local companies, and neighbors.
The Mahogany CARES team partnered with local restaurant Terri Lynn’s Express to create a sanitized area in the restaurant where they can safely prepare bag lunches for community members. They have already made more than 1,400 meals. Using the Love Your Block Caring Community Mini-Grant, the team expanded their menu to include meals that can be warmed up at home.
The Love Your Block team distributed 100 yard signs with COVID-19 information and resources to keep Milwaukee residents safe through the pandemic. The team made 60 signs in English and 40 in Spanish, distributing them in nine neighborhoods and posting them on busy Milwaukee streets.
In addition to the Caring Community Mini-grants, Milwaukee’s Love Your Block program continues to support neighborhood revitalization projects. Harambee resident and artist Cory Malchow received a Love Your Block mini-grant to create an outdoor sculpture garden where local artists can beautify the neighborhood with their artwork.
The Love Your Block mini-grant helped residents install peace posts and the first sculpture by Cory Malchow himself. The peace posts help beautify the neighborhood and raise spirits.
The Buffum Park project was spearheaded by longtime Milwaukee resident Josephine Key. Youth volunteers from Milwaukee’s Earn and Learn program helped clean up existing garden beds and planters, weeding and putting in a new wood chip path. More volunteers from community partners and the neighborhood helped add wood to raise the garden beds to make them ADA compliant, fixed old planter benches, and filled the garden beds and planters with new soil.
Roosevelt Grove is one of three locations where the Love Your Block team is installing peace posts in partnership with community partners. Groundwork Milwaukee dug and installed the posts, Sherwin Williams donated all of the paint, and Pilgrim Rest and Sherman Park Neighborhood Association members decorated the peace posts.
Love Your Block projects brought neighbors of all ages together and helped residents care for their communities when they needed it most. Learn more about Milwaukee’s Love Your Block program here.
Photos courtesy of the City of Milwaukee