SMART Army Mobilizes to Support Wisconsin Kids

June 10, 2022

On the morning of Thursday, June 9, over 120 SMART members joined the Association for the Rights of Citizens with Handicaps (ARCh) to prepare the Menomonee Park lodge for ARCh Camp Pow Wow, ensuring area adults and children with disabilities can attend the annual summer camp. Additionally, SMART pitched in with a fundraising effort that brought in $33,000 for ARCh and Camp Pow Wow, including a $5,000 donation from Milwaukee Tool Co.

“This is what we’re all about: building better communities,” said SMART Local 565 Business Manager & Financial Secretary Treasurer Jesse Buell. “Building better wages and benefits, and raising local standards. We are proud to take part in this effort to support our community.”

“SMART takes great pride in being able to assist ARCh Camp Pow Wow with their reopening,” added SMART Local 18 Business Manager/President Mike Mooney. “Camp Pow Wow has been a staple with serving the needs of the community for many years, and SMART is honored to be able to assist them.”

ARCh Camp Pow Wow has been providing outdoor recreational activities for adults and children with disabilities since 1959 with options for swimming, fishing, gardening, fitness, arts and crafts, music and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Camp Pow Wow hasn’t taken place in person since 2019, and the site had fallen into disrepair. As a small non-profit, ARCh did not have the resources to ready the site for return to camp, so the SMART Army answered the call.

“We are thrilled and honored to benefit from the enthusiasm and expertise of the SMART Army,” said Kristen Lindahl, Assistant Director of Operations at ARCh. “This project shows how much good can be accomplished through a dynamic partnership of organized labor, county government and the non-profit community. It takes this great ‘village’ to raise a camp!”

Members of SMART Local 18 (Wisconsin) and Local 565 (Madison, Wis.) – along with SMART delegates attending the SMART Sign and Production Council in Milwaukee – arrived at Menomonee Park lodge early on Thursday morning.

Members removed all the contents of the lodge, cleaned and sanitized the entire building – rooms, kitchen, common areas and more – and cleaned and sanitized every piece of equipment in the lodge before reinstalling all furnishings. Others took care of basic landscaping, repair and maintenance needs for the lodge picnic area, music pavilion, tent boxes and swing sets: fixing picnic tables and accessible wooden walkways, setting up heavy-duty tents for campers to use, spreading woodchips, sanitizing toys and recreational materials, and more. To finish off the effort, SMART members presented a $33,000 to ARCh Camp Pow Wow: a demonstration of the union’s commitment to supporting local communities across the United States and Canada.

“Although they have been challenging for everyone, the past two years have caused massive loneliness and frustration among children and adults with disabilities,” said Lindahl. “Thanks to the skill and dedication of the SMART Army, our campers can now safely and joyously return to the summer fun that they have missed so much!”