Friday morning dawned bright and early, with an 8 a.m. trip to Milwaukee Police District 1 on the schedule. The officers there have been busy lately with the increased activity in conjunction with the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA Finals run. Captain Jim Campbell explained that while they're all proud of the Bucks and happy for the great attention being paid to the city of Milwaukee, the influx of fans and visitors downtown has required lots of hours on the job to keep everybody safe. He said they've been asking a lot of their officers lately, and it was meaningful to have the Packers Road Trip stop to greet them and help them start their day.
The alumni and a handful of officers who were part of the shift change at the station chatted about what the department is doing to work toward sustained positive police-community relations.
"What we expect every day from our officers is as many positive citizen encounters as possible," Captain Campbell said. "That's a goal we will always work toward."
Nick shared his experience growing up with his father as a police officer, and how he understands firsthand how the officers' families feel each day when their loved ones head off to work.
The Packers also presented a $5,000 check to the Milwaukee Police Foundation to go toward the department's de-escalation training. "It's that first 15, 30 seconds that's going to make or break an interaction," said Mark McClain, President of the Milwaukee Police Foundation. "This means a lot not just to us but to everyone out there in the community."
Next up, it was Miller Time! The next visit on the agenda was a special tour at Molson Coors, where the alumni had the opportunity to see Miller Valley and the original brewing facilities.
The historic Milwaukee landmark includes 81 buildings spread out over 82 acres, and the alumni were led through a variety of facilities dedicated to the production, packaging and distribution of dozens of different beer and beverage brands.
The tour also included stops at the brew house and the product quality lab, which checks every drop of beer that is produced by the brewery to assure the quality meets the company's standards. Naturally, the staff in that department is required to taste the beer to effectively do their jobs.
Former Packers players James Jones, Nick Collins, Ryan Grant and Morgan Burnett continued on for a second day of the "Packers Road Trip." The touring group visited Milwaukee Police District 1, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and the Molson Coors Beverage Company.
The alumni fittingly handed out can coozies and bottle openers to the employees along the way, and posed for pictures with plenty of excited fans. One employee the alumni met was Shirley Fayne, who started working at the brewery in 1974. At 47 years, she is the second-most senior person at the facility. Many of the employees have worked at Miller Valley for upwards of 10 or 20 years.
"I haven't seen our people smile like that in a long time," said Bob Long, vice president of Miller Valley operations following the visit. "We've been through a lot the last 18 months and we can't tell you how much we appreciate you stopping by."
The tour also visited the distribution area, where the group quickly found the Packers-branded cases of Miller Lite, and took lots of photos of the seemingly endless pallets of product. The visit ended with a brief beer tasting and a toast to the upcoming Packers season.
Back on the road, the bus stopped briefly at an employee appreciation event at a nearby office before heading to Artisan 179 on the shores of Pewaukee Lake for lunch. The hungry group enjoyed plenty of items from the menu, not to mention some jaw-dropping desserts. Compliments to the chef!
It was time to head west, with Madison as the next destination, where the Road Trip would make its final organized visit for the day at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. The alumni had the opportunity to stop at the club's new facility, a recently donated building in Fitchburg that is on its way to becoming a Skilled Trades Training Center. The space will be used to expose club members to different job opportunities and learn about how teamwork and dedication can make a difference in their lives and future careers. Kids ranging from the age of 5 to 20 were present at the facility, with members of several area clubs coming together for the first time since the pandemic hit.
"(Due to COVID), our clubs were closed for a period of time, and this is the first time many of us have seen the kids at all since last year," said Laura Ford-Harris, chief development officer for the Boys & Girls Club. "Having them here in this space, which is our new skilled trade center, is amazing. We're having them build something so we can start to teach them about the opportunities available and how to work together as a team. This is a dream come true."
After speaking to the kids about how to pursue their dreams, the alumni answered some questions, took pictures and took part in a team building activity with the kids: see who can build the tallest structure out of just toothpicks and marshmallows. A delicious challenge, many of the groups were asking the Boys & Girls Club staff for more marshmallows before long!
With a few last autographs and final high-fives, the Packers Road Trip headed to the hotel in Madison for the evening. Two days down, two to go!