Riverworks Newsletter - May 2020
I hope that each of you and your family members and friends are safe and well. COVID-19 has changed our business operations; therefore, we are quickly adapting to a new way of life. Riverworks is working hard to meet the challenges, we are looking at new creative ways to help and serve the needs of businesses and residents. Currently, some of my staff members are working remotely, adapting to the use of technology. We are continuing to provide the highest level of service to our clients, business partners and others as we all work through these uncertain times. In fact, during this time we continue to operate a number of our essential programs; providing laundry service for the residents, litter pick-up and debris removal services to keep our community clean.
I am truly grateful to be employed and have all my staff working too; especially when so many non-profit organizations are not operational right now. It is because many of you have supported our organization over the years and that is why we exist today. Now more than ever, we need residents, businesses and funders to continue supporting our mission to make our neighborhoods and commercial corridors vibrant and safe.
Let’s continue to find ways to help our most vulnerable population; while adhering to the stringent social distancing restrictions. Together, we will make it through this crisis—Milwaukee Strong!
Be Safe and Stay Healthy,
Darryl Johnson with 2020 VITA Volunteers Marrion & Charmaine
Extraordinary Care from the Financial Clinic
Virtual Valet VITA Program Now Available!
Riverworks' Virtual Valet VITA program is taking an innovative approach to preparing taxes remotely. Offering an alternative to the traditional face-to-face site model, Riverworks' staff and volunteers can prepare tax returns dating back to 2016 through our secure technology. The Virtual VITA model will ensure that NO eligible individual will miss an opportunity to file their taxes and/or apply for the IRS stimulus check during COVID-19. If you, or someone you know, are in need of assistance, please check out the COVID-19 Financial Health Clinic page on our website to contact the Riverworks VITA team.
Testimony from a Riverworks VITA Client:
"My taxes have always been done in a timely manner, as I presented all the information to allow the tax preparers to do their job effectively. I appreciate Cashuana's professionalism and the knowledge that she constantly shares with me as a client. She always went above and beyond to assist me with my concerns, especially when I was under the impression that I owed the IRS over $20,000. I had just purchased a home and I was so scared that the IRS would take my house away, or place a lien on it. Today I received a refund check in the mail - I cried!!! I have not seen an income tax refund in the past 7 years; during these times, this refund is so needed. Again, I thank Riverworks Development Corp, and especially Cashuana, for all they have done for me and my family."
The Riverwest Farmers Market at Garden Park - 2019
Tomatoes from the Riverwest Farmers Market in 2019
Things to Look Forward to This Summer!
Although the Safer At Home Order has changed how we interact with our neighbors, we have been adapting our practices so that we can continue to provide residents with practical assistance to help weather this pandemic. These changes have also meant that some of our community events, such as the annual Bloom & Groom plant sale, have been canceled. These decisions have been made with the public’s safety and well-being above any other considerations.
In collaboration with the Riverwest Business Association, the Riverwest Farmer’s Market is looking to coordinate another successful season. As an essential business we plan on a full season with plenty of produce, bakery, eggs, meat, honey and a sprinkling of other products for all your shopping needs. We are currently solidifying all plans as new protocols will be implemented in order to follow state health department guidelines. Please visit the market's website or Facebook page for more information - both will be updated frequently. The Sunday market runs from June 2nd through October 25th from 10-3 pm.
Spring cleaning can still happen on the street, as folks can concentrate on their specific yards with their household. We are providing a cleaning kit which consists of one small picker, gloves and a garbage bag. If you are interested in a cleaning kit please contact Ruth Weill.
The Harambee Neighborhood Improvement District (NID#7) will still be allocating funds for home repairs this summer and fall, though unfortunately was unable to hold the March Annual Meeting. As the NID is adjusting to new circumstances, we are hard at work to come up with solutions to support the neighborhood! Please stay tuned for upcoming information about how to apply by checking the website.
In addition to the NID, you may be eligible for other home rehab resources - Targeted Investment Neighborhood loan, Strong Homes Loan or the Compliance Loan Program, for example---that can help make critical, major repairs more affordable. Please contact Amy Rohan for more information or assistance with an application.
Please be aware of coronavirus-related scams and watch out for schemes tied to Economic Impact Payments. If you are a homeowner and have experienced financial hardships due to the pandemic, you could have mortgage payments postponed. Please note that this is not automatic and you need to contact your lender to see if you are eligible. Finally, if you are a renter and worried about not being able to make rent payments, there is important legal info and resources for renters during COVID-19.
A Portion of the Trail from Richards & Keefe to Capitol
Entrance to the Beerline Trail near Richards & Keefe
Arts, Culture, Creative Placemaking
Art Lives On
Our hearts and minds go out to all art loving folks around the world. For the art makers in Milwaukee, we encourage you to check out the Milwaukee Arts Board and ImagineMKE websites for potential resources to keep you afloat during these tough times. Here at Riverworks, we're excited to be working with artists and the community to host virtual programming along the Beerline Trail. Unfortunately, we'll be postponing other events that we had planned, such as the Community Dinner and Fashion Cipher. In our efforts to bring you the exciting and innovative family-friendly programming that has come to define the Beerline Trail, we are looking for virtual programming options, opportunities to provide access to residents and ways to make the trail safely usable during social distancing. We'd love to hear from you as usual.
In tough times art will provide us creative ways through and out. Keep your ears and eyes open for our virtual programming. We look forward to seeing you online. The Beerline Trail is YOUR trail online and off!
Contact Rosalynn Wolfe Learn More or to Offer Suggestions
Part of the Co:Lab Team - (left to right) Jesus Maldonado, Nick Stark, Dulce Duran, Bernard Davis, Sanjana Segu
The Buzz in THE VIBE
Co:Lab Challenge Aims to Bridge the Holton Street Divide
Riverworks is always looking at different ways to strengthen the economic vitality of its service area in the community. One of Riverworks’ strengths is that it is located directly in between Harambee and Riverwest (on Holton Street) and has created THE VIBE as a space for positive economic change within both neighborhoods. THE VIBE is a co-working office space for entrepreneurs, businesses, creatives, and the like.
Most recently, Riverworks partnered-up with Co:Lab to recruit people who have amazing talent, passion, and compassion in developing sound solutions for the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods. Co:Lab is a program that is jointly presented by The Commons, NEWaukee, and Startup Milwaukee to accelerated civic impact across Milwaukee. The Co:Lab team of participants working with Riverworks in the 53212 zip code area just finished their project on April 23rd and have provided some encouraging feedback and solutions that Riverworks and THE VIBE will be implementing soon. Please check out all three projects and VOTE by Wednesday, May 6th!
A couple of the Co:Lab team participants are Bernard Davis and Jesus Maldonado. They are actual Members of THE VIBE and have a strong determination to create positive economic change by unifying the neighborhoods. Davis has a Masters Degree in Business Management; he volunteers his time on the Findley Foundation Board of Directors and has extensive experience as a Mortgage Broker. Maldonado has a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering; he is the President of the Milwaukee chapter of Prospanica, has worked for huge international companies like Goldman Sachs, and is currently a Professional Development & Talent Acquisition Consultant.
Riverworks and THE VIBE are incredibly grateful to all of the Co:Lab participants: Jesus Maldonado, Bernard Davis, Amy Hillegass, Dulce Duran, Steve Balistreri, Sanjana Segu, and Nick Stark for volunteering their time and for the amazing work they contributed to this critical project. Thanks so much and we look forward to implementing your recommendations! All the best of success!
For a limited FREE membership at THE VIBE, please visit our website.
Catch THE VIBE!