Arthur and Brenda Ward
Arthur and Brenda Ward are resident leaders and community organizers in Sherman Park. Mr. Ward lost his eyesight to gun violence in 1990, and Ms. Ward lost her leg to diabetes in 2012, but they are more dedicated than ever to their community, committed to serving their less fortunate neighbors.
Arthur Ward grew up in Lake Providence, Louisiana. He moved to Milwaukee with his mother in 1971. His grandfather was a sharecropper in the South, and his mother wanted to escape this harsh farming life. Mr. Ward remembers his arrival in Milwaukee; it was a good, family-oriented city, with available factory jobs.
Brenda Ward grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and has been in Milwaukee on and off since 1978. She describes visiting the city for the first time in 1968, seeing the children playing in the street, and deciding she would move here when she was older.
The couple lived in multiple homes in different areas in the Sherman Park area. They started renting their current home seven years ago when their previous residence was foreclosed.
Mr. Ward worked as a janitor. He also served as a mentor when he worked with the Social Nation of the Blind. Ms. Ward worked in multiple jobs, as a housekeeper, factory worker, in food services, and nursing homes. They have both retired now.
Ms. Ward has five children, three of whom are living, fourteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She is raising four grandchildren because their mother, her daughter, was killed. Yet tragedy and violence have not slowed them down. Their commitment to the neighborhood is clear and constant. Mr. Ward decided to get involved in the neighborhood by joining the Police Oppression Committee when he was twenty years old. Since then, he has always been in the forefront, fighting against unemployment and eviction, and getting kids off the street.
In 2003, the Wards started the Matilda Ward Youth Empowerment Association, named after Arthur's mother. Now, the Wards buy food out of their own pocket and cook for the neighborhood at Butterfly Park three times a week. Mr. Ward is also part of the block club and is trying to organize basketball tournaments in the neighborhood.
The Wards hope that their neighborhood will improve in the near future. They hope to see more single-family homes and dream of a vital and safe community where people can sit on their porches and talk to each other.
Arthur Ward (front left), his wife Brenda (front right) and their small team of volunteers have been serving free meals at Butterfly Park, 3717 W. Meinecke Ave., for more than 10 years. (Photo by Edgar Mendez), Edgar Mendez, "Couple leads effort to serve home-cooked meals to neighbors in need," Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, July 10, 2015, http://milwaukeenns.org/2015/07/10/couple-leads-effort-to-serve-home-cooked-meals-to-neighbors-in-need/, Accessed June 27, 2018.
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