By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 01, 2017 at 11:56 AM

On Wednesday, Aug. 2, while most of us are still enjoying summer vacation, and maybe beginning to think about starting to think about considering going back to school shopping, more than 2,100 GE employees will get up bright and early and report to 15 MPS schools, as well as two Tosa schools and four Waukesha schools.

They’ll be there for the 23rd annual GE Community Service Day to spruce up these 21 schools in anticipation of the return of the more than 10,000 students enrolled there.

The employees will paint walls and murals, do cleaning and organizing work, as well as landscaping and other jobs to help principals, teachers, staff and building engineers and maintenance workers create a welcoming environment for students and families.

Based on The Independent Sector standard valuation of volunteer work at $23.06 an hour, GE’s team will be making a contribution of more than $500,000, when the cost of supplies and transportation are added.

The community service day tradition was begun by a group of GE employees who volunteered at a single MPS school in 1995. Waukesha schools were added in 2009 and Tosa joined in last year. These are cities in which GE Healthcare has facilities, according to a fact sheet from GE.

Here are some other details from the fact sheet:

  • The GE Volunteers CSD Committee prepares for this massive community service project on a year-round basis. GE employees work with individual schools to identify needs, develop a task plan, secure needed supplies and lead the volunteer teams at each school. The 2017 CSD co-leaders are Wayne Steffen and Holly Mancusi-Hand of GE Healthcare.
  • One of the more popular requests from schools is to create murals and quotes on the walls to inspire youth. At least one mural will be painted at every school. A few of the murals will be created free-hand by GE Healthcare’s Global Design Team. This team goes to the schools a week in advance so the designs are ready for painting on Aug. 2. Fun fact: 1,500 detail and artistic paint brushes and 160 gallons of colorful paint are used just for murals.
  • The T-shirts the volunteers are wearing features an original design created by Maribel Lopez, sixth grader, from MPS Escuela Vieau school. Schools participating in Community Service Day were invited to be part of the T-shirt design contest and Maribel’s design was selected as the winner.
  • Some of the unique projects at a few of the CSD schools include: (weather permitting) creating raised garden beds at Lancaster, a teachers lounge makeover at Washington in Wauwatosa, at Randall in Waukesha volunteers will be creating a Lego wall, GE employees at Hampton will be updating the school’s website, an outdoor classroom will be installed at Howard Montessori, a parent welcome center will be created at Keefe Avenue, a Camp Room is the makeover project at Maryland Montessori, the Milwaukee Bucks will be hanging new nets on the boards at North Division, a peace garden will be created outside Pulaski High School and GE employees will be training teachers on 3D printing at McKinley.
  • GE believes in order to succeed as a global business, it needs to help build and improve the communities where its employees live and work. That belief is put into action through the GE Volunteers program in Wisconsin and around the world. Supporting education is one of the Company’s top priorities.
  • GE employs approximately 6,000 people in southeastern Wisconsin making it one of the top 10 employers in the area. Employees participating in GE CSD are part of GE Healthcare, GE Power and GE Capital.
  • Some volunteers from the Milwaukee Bucks front office and Junior Achievement are joining in with GE Community Service Day and will volunteer at a school.
  • GE provides its expertise and volunteers in area schools on a regular basis. A primary focus is placed on STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) skills through engagement with programs such as FIRST Robotics, Lego Leagues, GE Girls, Igniting Minds, Project Lead the Way, Junior Achievement and more. In 2016, GE Volunteers in southeastern Wisconsin donated more than 30,000 hours to local organizations and schools.
  • CSD is being held earlier this year to accommodate early start schools.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.