|Jerry Rogers, Keith Oberg, Craig Annear, Nick Griffin|
When Executive Director Keith Oberg (kneeling with bike in the photo to the right) made the decision to establish Bikes for the World, identifying storage and enlisting community groups to collect bikes, he did not do it alone. Craig Annear and Nick Griffin, pictured to the right of the bike at this Bikes for the World collection at Herndon High School in 2005, have been with Bikes for the World since the beginning of time, or at least since Bikes for the World formed.
Nick had recently relocated from his home town of New York City to work in international assistance with a Northern VA-based agency, and knew about Keith's efforts through his brother, who had done a field survey and report on bicycles in Nicaragua.
Both saw the potential for Bikes for the World to grow, and quickly became active, spending countless hours driving trucks, mentoring new bike processors, and loading shipments. It helped that both enjoyed physical exercise and wanted to stay in shape. Both took the lead in loading 40' shipping containers, frequently tackling the infamous 'third level.' As Keith often joked to first-timers, "now you know why [we] quit our membership at Sport & Health".
Bikes for the World began as a "sponsored project" of a supportive Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). In essence, Keith was given free rein to manage Bikes for the World's finances and operations. Craig contributed his legal knowledge, helping to prepare a standard "memorandum of understanding" which BfW used in establishing relationships with overseas receiving partners. Nick contributed his contacts and expertise in identifying several early partners.
Over its first three years, the program grew rapidly, from 5,000 bikes handled to over 10,000 in 2008. But it was taking its toll on Keith, and on volunteers. Nick was particularly assertive in urging Keith to hire help and broaden the base of support.
|Bike use in Africa|
Finally, in the fall of 2009, Craig and Nick, along with Jerry Rogers (all pictured at top with Keith), convened a meeting in a Rosslyn sports bar--convenient to Nick's office and Jerry's bike commuter route. There, the three prevailed upon Keith to hire office help and begin considering other ways to build Bikes for the World into a permanent organization. It would be the first step toward moving out from under WABA's sponsorship and becoming an independent non-profit agency.
Bikes for the World hopes to ship its 100,000th bike this fall. With over a dozen global partners and increasing corporate partnerships, BfW collects and donates over 14,000 bikes annually, affecting lives from Rockville communities to remote villages in Africa to small schools in Bohol, Philippines.