Editor’s note: Milwaukee is filled with many ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This year, from time to time, NNS will briefly highlight individuals who are helping our community. To nominate your neighbor, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Two to know” in the subject line.
Name: Isabel Castro
Why she’s worth knowing: Castro, the 2018 Chavez Drive artist in residence, has completed and installed the mural, “Tejiendo Raíces,” on the north wall of 1023 S. Chavez Drive. As part of the Farm Project, which seeks to make Cesar E. Chavez Drive an economic and cultural destination, Castro worked with community members and UWM volunteers to create the mural.
What she says: “The best part of doing this project was the people. I was a support system for them, and they were a support system for me. I encouraged them to bring food in, and I had breakfast and real conversation with community members almost every morning.”
What others say: “Isabel was such a good candidate because she is so genuine, and she wanted to give back to the community. Anyone who talks to her can see that,” said Ian Bautista, executive director of the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative.
“It looks good already. It’s nice for children to see something so big and bright in their own community. I think I’ll use it to help teach my toddler colors every time we walk past it,” said Minerva Valdez, who lives a block away from the mural.
In case you missed it: On the walls: An (admittedly) incomplete guide to murals on the South Side
In case you missed it: On the walls: More neighborhood murals you should see
-Princess Safiya Byers
Name: Mary Ferwerda
Why she’s worth knowing: Ferwerda serves as the executive director of the Milwaukee Justice Center. The center’s volunteers provide help to low-income residents who need legal representation and is a collaboration between the Milwaukee Bar Association, Milwaukee County and the Marquette University Law School.
The center has about 400 volunteers a year, including lawyers, law school students, undergraduate students and some community members.
What she says: “In the last 10 years, we’ve grown from having two employees to seven employees, from helping a few thousand people a year to 10,000 people a year.”
What she loves about her job: “I love our volunteers. We couldn’t do what we do if they weren’t here. They’re so committed and caring. Everyone here wants to help.”
About the center: The value of free services provided by the center was estimated as $1.15 million. The center not only offers services at its office in the Milwaukee courthouse, it also offers help through its Mobile Legal Clinic.
What’s next: “I would like to make sure that our Mobile Legal Clinic is fully staffed and functional, and we don’t ever have to worry about money for this project,” Ferwerda said.