Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good Day Sunshine (not by The Beatles)

Mayor Cieslewicz calls it the “Good Day Machine” in his blog; a counter to the cold war “Doomsday Machine” that supposedly would launch nukes even after those charged with “pushing the button” had been annihilated. The “Good Day Machine” is what he calls the ongoing generosity of Irwin and Robert Goodman, the State Street jewelers who amassed a fortune and then systematically gave it to the city to support great civic projects.

Even though the brothers both passed away a few months apart last year, their generosity is still very much alive and well. The Mayor says their foundation has given a quarter-million dollars to close the private funding for furnishing the new South-Side Library.

Can I get an “Amen” here? These guys are nothing short of fabulous.

I’m a voracious reader, and when I’ve finished reading a book, I put it into a cardboard box and when the box gets full, I take it over to the South-Side branch library and donate the books. I can’t count the times I’ve been in that branch in the old Villager Mall, how busy and cramped it was, people waiting in line to use computers, and people of all ages looking through books or periodicals.

That’s all changing, though, because the city has spent 3.5 million bucks to build a new South-Side branch library – state-of-the-art – right in front of the old one, in that gorgeous building that fronts Park Street and also houses the Urban League and Planned Parenthood. The new digs will quadruple the space for the branch (from 3,000 to 12,000 square feet) and the South-Side branch, which is one of the busiest in the city, will be fully equipped with the latest amenities to serve its patrons.

I believe I need another “Amen” here on behalf of the Goodman brothers.

If ever there were more good-hearted philanthropists than Bob and Irv Goodman, I haven’t heard of them. They gave their money to help build practical, useful things that may not be as flashy and showy as some philanthropic projects, but are used and enjoyed by regular folks all the time. The municipal pool that nobody could build in Madison for decades. The softball fields at the UW. And on and on, hundreds of other projects we’re probably not even aware of.

Making sure that the South-Side branch library takes its place among the city’s finest public facilities may not be a flashy-showy-sexy thing. But it’s going to affect the lives of thousands of neighbors and generations of young folks yet to arrive.

I think the Mayor is right. The Goodman brothers are indeed a “Good Day Machine.”

1 comment:

  1. I wish Mr. Frautschi had been as community-minded as the Goodman brothers were. Just think what good those millions could have done if spent on something other than the Overture Center.