The MKE Plays initiative was presented with a $100,000 check from Potawatomi Hotel and Casino’s signature community charitable program, Heart of Canal Street, on Thursday, December 22 at City Hall.

Alderman Michael J. Murphy said the donation was raised through Potawatomi Casino’s Canal Street bingo game, which ran from August 11 through December 16. The money will be used to renovate the playground at Witkowiak Park, which was last renovated in 1998 and is located at 1648 S. 4th St.

“It is especially heartwarming during this time of year – and during this frigid weather – to know that a generous gift from the Forest County Potawatomi to the community, and especially to the children of the near south side, will be bustling with laughter and fun during the warmer months for many years to come,” Alderman Murphy said. “The new and improved Witkowiak Park playground will be a valuable community and neighborhood asset for all to enjoy.”

Rodney Ferguson, Chief Operating Officer of Potawatomi, said he’s proud of charity’s success and its recent partnership with MKE Plays. “The community has embraced the Heart of Canal Street program and contributed to its success for over two decades. For that we are forever grateful,” said Ferguson. “Partnering with the City of Milwaukee’s MKE Plays initiative serves as a fantastic opportunity to impact families’ lives by creating safe places for children to play and neighbors to interact.”

Alderman José G. Pérez said he is also grateful for the generous gift that will benefit families and children in his district and across the near south side. “On behalf of the kids and families of my district, I offer my sincere thanks to the generosity of Potawatomi, which is making this important renovation at Witkowiak Park possible,” he said. “I’m thrilled with this program’s (MKE Plays) success and wish for it more fruitful partnerships like this one for the benefit of our children.”

Joe Kaltenberg, MKE Plays Program Coordinator, said he is also extremely thankful for the generosity. “We want city parks to reflect the diverse needs, interests, and identities of the neighborhoods they serve,” Kaltenberg said. “Partnerships like this allow us to help residents create play environments that are beautiful, safe, health-enhancing, and fun!”

MKE Plays is a city-led initiative launched by Alderman Michael J. Murphy in 2015 aimed at renovating 12 of Milwaukee’s most dilapidated playgrounds in an effort to encourage children to play and exercise and to combat childhood obesity. MKE Plays was selected by Heart of Canal Street based on its focus on developing safe spaces for children and families in some of the city’s most compromised neighborhoods.