More than 100 Target employees, City Year Milwaukee corps members and Milwaukee Public School students recently gathered at the Hopkins Lloyd Community School for a day of painting the playground and building community spirit.
“The playground needed a facelift, and it’s a good thing for the neighborhood to add color and vibrancy,” said City Year corps member Cassie Scheidegger. City Year is an Americorps program that provides mentoring and tutoring to students.
The volunteers painted the basketball courts, football field, track, kickball diamond and benches. They also painted a map of the U.S. and built frames for a new garden.
“Since students are also part of carrying this out, it connects them to their community,” said Dr. Juan Baez, Hopkins Lloyd principal. “There’s ownership for them.”
The schoolyard makeover idea came from City Year, and became possible through a partnership with Target and the Zilber Family Foundation. “We’ve been partnering for over a year,” said Jen Lassila, district team leader at Target.
“This (event) was one we wanted to have as a stepping stone to make a huge impact,” Lassila added.
Target has committed to serve 7,200 volunteer hours in the Lindsay Heights community this year, according to Susan Lloyd. “Target was looking for a community to focus on, and wanted to be part of a larger effort on a long-term basis,” Lloyd said.
Target’s 50 volunteer employees came to participate in what Lassila called the Milwaukee Matters Initiative. Eventually, the goal is to disperse volunteers to five locations throughout the community, creating a greater impact, according to Lassila.
Target provided burgers and chips for lunch as well as all of the supplies, valued at $17,500.
Target brings “volunteer power” and a commitment to public education to the partnership, while the Zilber Family Foundation provides neighborhood connections and a commitment to community revitalization.
Dignitaries attending a short program before the volunteers went to work included Milwaukee Public School Superintendent Gregory Thornton; Myra Edwards, staff assistant at the mayor’s Office; Annie Woodward, MPS board director, District 4; and Dr. Cynthia Ellwood, MPS Regional Specialist (East region).
“(I) definitely had a fun time hanging out with the kids, and getting to know them because I grew up over here,” said volunteer Jeremy Landers, an executive team leader at Target.
Jacob Dundy, 13, said the project made him look forward to coming to school the next day. “It means a lot,” he said. “We get to come back in the morning knowing we have a new, fresh playground.”