Experience Downtown Blog

Milwaukee’s Backbone: the Department of Public Works Supports a Healthier Future

May 22, 2020 /   City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works

The Heroes Project salutes those who MKE a difference. To engage with our community virtually, we've documented the stories of downtown's frontline heroes, who ultimately inspired our next mural. Titled "The Hero in You," by Milwaukee artist Ken Brown, will transform MacArthur Square this June. For more details, visit www.milwaukeedowntown.com/art. Photography for Milwaukee Downtown by Andrew Feller.

And through May 23, National Public Works Week celebrates essential public workers like the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works. Thank you for all you do to MKE our city shine!

With a pandemic to fight, proper sanitation is needed now more than ever. That’s why the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) has a pivotal role in helping the city pull through its battle with COVID-19. DPW’s hard workers and essential services give Milwaukee the support it needs to come back even stronger. 

Along with sanitation services like waste collection, the DPW crew manages a variety of other amenities residents depend on. Whether it is public lighting or running water, the department handles it all. With this crew of behind-the-scenes heroes keeping the city functioning, Milwaukee can rest easy. 

City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works

Like many other organizations, DPW has implemented changes to make work safer. A department representative explains, “We have to be very mindful of our actions including handling our facemasks, keeping proper social distance and additional cleaning.” Emphasizing the care the Department takes with safety measures, DPW adds, “To keep proper physical distancing, we no longer gather in break areas. Additional cleaning has been put in place, and rather than rotating with different coworkers, we work with the same people.”

Even with these additional protocols, DPW still faces challenges: “We know that while we do everything to keep the risk low, leaving home now carries some risk. We come home to challenges that so many others are going through with partners and children remaining at home while we need to continue to serve the city.” The fact that DPW’s crew endures these hardships for Milwaukee’s benefit reveals how they possess great courage and selflessness. 

DPW’s crew feels the anxiety essential workers experience, yet they know it will help them grow stronger. Says their team, “We’ll remember that we came through this period of uncertainty and ever-changing conditions stronger than before.” 

The DPW won’t have to wait long, as its strength is already apparent to fellow Milwaukeeans. A thoughtful resident had this to say to the crew: “Your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you for being the backbone of a healthy city, especially in times of crisis.” With well-earned gratitude, this letter perfectly expresses how important these workers continue to be for the city and its people.

About the author: Claire Barten is Milwaukee Downtown's Special Events & Marketing Intern, spreading Milwaukee Downtown's community ideals through social media and other engaging platforms.

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