Today, more than 2,500 current and retired GE employees, plus about 150 other volunteers, are walking into 16 Milwaukee Public Schools and four Waukesha Public Schools (as well as Greenfield High School) to paint, clean, organize and landscape to help the schools plan for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
From 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. the volunteers will take part in the largest single-day GE volunteer event -- one that this year turns 20.
The non-GE volunteers come from groups like Milwaukee Bucks, City Year Milwaukee, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and area PTO groups.
"GE is a true community partner. To have such a large group of employee volunteers help at our schools is proof of that commitment," MPS acting superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said. "When children return to school and see all the work that has been done, it shows them that their community cares. We are grateful for all of the volunteers."
At Victory School on the far South Side, volunteers are building and installing library shelving and at Allen-Field on the near South Side, the library is getting a new story area. At Grantosa Drive School they're painting a giant U.S. map on the playground. In Waukesha, Les Paul Middle School is getting a new brick patio and benches.
Back in Milwaukee, there's activity nearly everywhere at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School, a South Side K3-8 school with an enrollment around 750.
On the first floor, I found City Year employees helping to paint slogans and murals, as well as beautifying bulletin boards. A plumber was replacing a sink. The office was buzzing with activity.
Donning shirts celebrating service day, workers were the second floor and third floors painting, assembling desks and doing other jobs. Some were painting classrooms that iconic MPS seafoam green. Others were doing murals and trim in the third floor gym.
In one classroom in this gorgeous 1894 schoolhouse, eighth grade teacher Melissa Millard was marveling over the accomplishments of the volunteers working in her room. They had moved out her inadequate old desks and carried 28 different ones down from the attic.
Even the basement and schoolyard had volunteers working. And throughout the school I overheard grateful teachers and staff members offering thanks.
"Community Service Day has been a great tradition at GE for 20 years," said BrianMasterson, VP of GE Healthcare Global Supply Chain. "Volunteerism at GE is embedded in our culture and it is something we truly value. It is really great for our employees to be able to make a difference in the communities in which we work."
The MPS schools benefiting from this year's GE Community Service Day are:
- Allen-Field Elementary School
- Elm Creative Arts School
- Forest Home Avenue School
- Hawley Environmental School
- Manitoba Elementary School
- Wedgewood Park International School
- Westside Academy
- Clement J. Zablocki School
- Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School
- Lloyd Barbee Montessori
- Henry David Thoreau School
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Technology & Trade School
- Grantosa Drive School
- Cass Street School
- Victory School for the Gifted and Talented
- Eighty-First Street School
These schools in Waukesha are taking part, too:
- Les Paul Middle School (Central Middle School)
- Lowell Elementary School
- Rose Glen Elementary School
- Waukesha West High School
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.