Bikes for the World

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rotary International Impacts Local Community

If we measured success by the number of bikes we collect, recognizing Philip Dondes of the West Springfield Rotary Club is a year overdue. And while we do count the number of bikes collected at our events, compare them year to year, and even count the number of bikes we ship overseas, what we really measure our success by is lives impacted.

And again, recognizing Philip Dondes is possibly a year overdue.

Bikes for the World collects and donates 14,000 bikes annually affecting lives from Costa Rica to Ghana to Bohol, Philippines. But it all starts here in our local communities. With leaders like Dondes organizing and managing bike collections for BfW, not only are we able to impact a greater number of people overseas, but we also have an enormous impact right here at home.

Dondes brought together the West Springfield Rotary Club, Irving Middle School, Bikes for the World, The Bike Lane, Kristi's Christmas, a local charity, and Interstate Van Lines who helped store bikes to be donated locally.

The Rotary Club, along with students from Irving, promoted the collection, hosted the one day drop off point, and prepped bikes to be shipped overseas. This year the collection netted  135 bikes and 3 sewing machines. Last year they collected 94. If we did keep track of numbers, we'd tell you the West Springfield Rotary Club collected 22 bikes their first year with us and 30 their second. The impact Dondes has had on the collection speaks for itself.

But it's the impact the collection has had on the community that we want to recognize. "This was a real team effort. Local businesses and volunteers supported the students' efforts. I witnessed positive attitudes, dedication, and mentoring," said Dondes.

Every year Dondes gives a presentation at the Middle School explaining the mission of Bikes for the World and highlighting the importance a bicycle has in someones life overseas. The collection is held just before Earth Day encouraging recycling and stressing the impact reuse can have on communities worldwide.

Courtesy Kristi's Christmas
A Rotary club's mission is to encourage service internationally, but also locally in the community. Using this motivation, Dondes organized a local bike donation through a charity close to the Club. Kristi's Christmas was founded by Rotary members Karen and Bill Brown to remember their daughter who was killed in an automobile accident in 1986.

"We included Kristi's Christmas as a recipient for bikes because our Rotary Club felt the need to donate locally as well as internationally. Kristi's Christmas has an impeccable record for getting donations to the kids who need them most. It was a natural fit." Philip Dondes

Last year Bikes for the World, through this effort, donated 13 bicycles to Kristi's Christmas. 19 bikes will be donated to Fairfax area students in need this month.

Because Bikes for the World does not refurbish bicycles, Dondes had to find a mechanic to look over all the bikes, making repairs, before the bikes could be donated to the charity. The Bike Lane in Springfield graciously donated mechanics' time to do this safety check. Interstate Van Lines loaned Dondes space to store the bikes until they could be donated later this month.

Job well done.

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