You may recall last summer while on patrol, Police Officer Joseph Spingola and his partner came upon a large group of kids and young men playing basketball in the street near 35th and Custer. To start a conversation, Officer Spingola asked if he could play. New relationships developed.
The area is one of the city’s Promise Zones where a strategic effort is being made to help residents find jobs, get access to resources, clean up trash and ensure public safety.
Over the summer, Officer Spingola would check back to see how everyone was doing, if anyone needed anything or had any concerns in the neighborhood— and of course play some ball.
This spring, during a neighborhood clean up, one of this kids mentioned that the basketball hoop that had been the gathering place for kids of all ages from around the block, had been stolen.
Enter Safe & Sound, an organization that works to reduce crime and better neighborhoods through strong public-private partnerships.
An anonymous donor had given some money specifically marked to help a family in Police District 4. The idea came up to use the money to purchase a new basketball hoop, along with a heavy gauge lock, to get the neighborhood games back on Custer Ave. They also purchased some make your own slime kits and other toys for the younger children.
On Monday the new hoop was delivered and assembled with help from Police Officer Matthew Bongel. While shooting hoops, one young man shot a direct question. He asked: “You know of any jobs? I got a job, but I need a better job.”
“Me too,” said another young man as he sunk the basketball.
Beth Rosenow, a community coordinator with Safe & Sound, Inc., asked them about their background and employment history and was able to provide a list of opportunities that are available immediately. The youngest of the bunch, a 14 year old, wanted a job too.
Milwaukee Police are in the business of building relationships and strengthening neighborhoods while on the mission to reduce crime, fear and disorder. Thanks to great partners like Safe & Sound, together they were able to cleanup a neighborhood, connect people jobs and build community.
Working together to help one person, one block, one neighborhood at a time.