Bikes for the World

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Volunteer: Phil Ruth


This month we honor and recognize Phil Ruth who has been with Bikes for the World since 2006. Phil received our five-year volunteer pedal wrench award back in 2011 when we loaded our 50,000th bike. Phil is responsible for collecting and loading thousands and thousands of bikes for Bikes for the World. After Keith, Phil has probably had a hand on more bikes than anyone at BfW.

In 2012 Phil left the area to be closer to family and his absence left a hole around the BfW warehouse. Fortunately for us, Phil returned last year just as the entire BfW team was tuckering out from taking in over 5,000 bikes from our partnership with DICK'S Sporting Goods.  Phil brought energy and spunk back to our effort and we managed to successfully pack our warehouse full of bikes (so much so you could barely walk without sidestepping a bike).

Looking back, Director Keith Oberg recalls the first contact with Phil, who lived all the way out in Hagerstown Maryland. At that time, BfW operated out of our five trailers at Tysons Corner, were in transition out of a site in SW DC, and had just signed the lease at King Farm. "Initially, I was skeptical that Phil would do all that driving to participate. But he did and became not only our most dependable and hard-working volunteer colleague, he ranged furthest afield, looking for bikes!" Keith Oberg

One of his first volunteer tasks back in the beginning was to help Keith clean out the newly acquired warehouse space in the old hay barn at King Farm. Ironically, Phil was also the last one to turn out the light when we vacated the space last year.

Phil leaves a lasting impression on everyone he works with, whether it's a young volunteer struggling to process a bike in the warehouse, a collection manager impressed with his knowledge and passion, or board and staff members who can call on Phil for anything. Phil believes in the importance of recycling/reuse and the value a bike can bring someone overseas....and it shows in everything he does.

Even before Phil returned to the area last year he was in touch with BfW planning his return and filling his dance card (literally, Phil is an avid  round dancer). He immediately committed himself to driving and picking up bikes, prepping bikes for shipping, mentoring volunteers, recycling scrap metal, cutting wood for our containers, and tackling the most-challenging bikes to process (which we always leave for him to fight). Phil works tirelessly and endlessly...sometimes calling Keith as late as 11pm with a report or idea.

Keith credits Phil's yeoman's efforts for making it possible for BfW to survive our largest weekend ever, when we netted more than 700 bikes at four collections on the last Saturday of April in 2009.

Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess would argue our busiest weekend (or really DAY) occurred last year when we took in about 1,000 bikes in one day from DICK'S after just taking in close to 1,000 earlier in the week. "You honestly couldn't walk through the warehouse end to end. The bikes stacked against opposing walls were closing in on the middle. Phil jumped in that weekend to help process bikes when staff was absolutely tired of looking at them! Not only that, but he took the initiative to get more OSB ready so we could stack bikes and create more room in the warehouse. It was a critical time in our operation and Phil saved the day."


No comments:

Post a Comment