Bikes for the World

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Students Gear Up For College

Graduates of Baclayon National High School
Congratulations to the first batch of beneficiaries to graduate from Baclayon National High School. Bikes for the Philippines was established to help keep students who live a great distance from school from dropping out by supplying them with transportation to school. Every single fourth year student loaned a bike last year through this program earned it by graduating high school!
Cristy Joy Razo and Eunice Faith Pude

Not only did all the 'seniors' graduate, but two students in the bike program just left for college the weekend of May 25-26 2013. Through the Passerelles numériques(PN) program two of our bike beneficiaries were awarded scholarships to attend the University of San Carlos in Cebu.

Cristy Joy Razo and Eunice Faith Pude, seen here with BNHS Principal Elvira Jabonillo, were both awarded a PN scholarship to attend university and earn a degree in IT. Room, board, and tuition will all be paid for by PN.

Through education, Passerelles numériques enables the most underprivileged young people to access employment in the promising sector of computer technology and break the cycle of poverty within their families.

Cristy Joy Razo
Bikes for the World was founded by Keith Oberg in 2005 after he saw first hand the effects the lack of transportation had on countless families and an entire community. Whether it be for school, work, or heath care, making bikes available to underprivileged people was a high priority.

 Enter Joel Uichico, founder of Bikes for the Philippines. He also saw a need to bring bicycles to the Philippines to not only keep adolescents enrolled in school, but also to bring to them a better way of life. So Oberg and Uichico eventually joined forces to bring to these students affordable (FREE!) bicycles in hopes of keeping them in school, giving them the means to a better education, and giving them hope for the future.

Bikes for the World simply delivered a container of bicycles to a project. It was the educators in the system that delivered an amazing program. And the students just plain delivered. They took an interest in the program, respected the initiative, and gave us exactly the results we were looking for.

Eunice Pude
Eunice Pude received this Magna through the Bikes for Philippines Bikes for Education program early in 2011 in the pilot program introduced in her high school in Baclayon. Students were chosen for the program in part due to their distance from the high school, which officials were noticing played an important part in why the drop out rate was so significant.

Eunice, in fact, probably lived the furthest from the school at 7km, making her round trip commute over 8 miles a day! Despite the rocky terrain and steep hills she had to climb, she mastered the bike and was able to save a ton of time riding to school instead of walking.

Eunice and Cristy Joy...with Joe in the background

Teachers reported students having more energy in class, were better prepared, arrived on time, and stayed more alert throughout the day after receiving their bikes. Some of the quieter students even gained more confidence once they entered the bike program.

Congratulations again to Eunice Pude, Cristy Joy Razo, and all the bike beneficiaries in the Philippines education program. The second project in a neighboring community of Maribojoc is about to launch with bikes already delivered by Bikes for the World. We hope Cristy and Eunice serve as role models to all the students and show them there is room to dream for a bigger future. Many of these students have never left the island of Bohol. Cristy and Eunice are currently in Cebu with the rest of the 2016 class orienting themselves to a new lifestyle, new friends, and brand new plans for their futures.And we hope they decided to take their bikes!

Courtesy PN and Marie Serreau

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paying It Forward

TERRIFIC awardees with the Mayor of Rockville
Congratulations to all the Rockville students who earned bikes this year through the City of Rockville's TERRIFIC program. Any student in Rockville has the opportunity to complete a series of tasks that in turn earns them a refurbished bicycle through Bikes for the World. The students are awarded a certificate, get their pictures taken with Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, and finally come out to King Farm to pick out new bikes.

Jordan Alpay poses with his new bike
Bikes for the World has been participating in the project for a few years now. The bikes are refurbished by our mechanic Nick Colombo and come from the huge stash donated at King Farm, where we have one of our main storage areas.

Participants complete six or more good deeds such as reading a book to someone who can't read themselves, trash clean up, sitting with an elderly student even stuck up for a student who was being bullied.

Selected kids then come out and get to test ride a nice selection of bikes before choosing one to take home. Students who earned a bike also received a helmet, courtesy of Montgomery Fire and Rescue.

Ashley Thommana donated her old bike
Any student is eligible to participate and they can come back and try again next do outgrow their bikes pretty quickly, which parents know can be expensive.

The cool thing about this program is it introduces the students to Bikes for the World and the importance of taking care of your bike so you can donate it back to help another kid possibly learn how to ride or get to school.

And that's just what Ashley Thommana did. When she came to pick out a new bike, she brought her old one with her and donated it to Bikes for the World!

Chaula Butterworth's daughters have all participated in the program and she notes the life lessons involved with every aspect of earning the bike:
"This is our third year participating in your program and the girls have enjoyed it immensely. They take pride in doing the tasks necessary for earning the bikes, in getting recognized by the Mayor and council, and in donating one of our current bikes to a child at school who doesn't have a bike. They have learned the joy that comes from sharing something special (their bikes) with someone who can't afford such a luxury." Chaula Butterworth
Gabrielle Nadler donated her earned bike
Gabrielle Nadler, who just turned 10, Happy Birthday Gabrielle! got a new bike for her last birthday, but she still wanted to participate in the program. She has donated toys and clothes to charity before and she thought it would be a great idea to donate a bike. I like this girl's thinking! Her mom Marcie confirmed that if she was selected to receive a bike that she could donate it to someone else in the program:

"Gabrielle liked this idea and went full speed ahead completing all the tasks that needed to be completed. This has truly been a great life lesson for her in learning that it is better to give than to receive. She loved the fact that she was presented with a certificate from the mayor, but is very happy and proud that another child will have a new bike this spring." Marcie Nadler

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Different Kind of Charity Ride

Yvette Hess with FreeBike co-founder Johan Bender
Bikes for the World has a new partner in Southern California. It's a unique partner for BfW since it's sort of a bike rental company for college students. But not really. First of all, it's FREE. And these students aren't your average bike riders.

The FreeBike Project offers free wheels to students, traveling 'billboards' for local businesses, and a 'vehicle' for change to students abroad. Let me break that down.

The pilot project began on the campus of the University of Southern California. Co-founders Johan Bender and Kim Sanderhoff thought up this unique bike leasing project that pairs students with businesses. Students get the use of a bike for the semester and businesses get seen around town, on facebook, twitter,'re getting the idea.

Here's the bike. Looks a bit like it might have come from the streets of Copenhagen? Well, they do know bikes there. And Bender and Sanderhoff have Denmark roots and designed the bike themselves.

Each bike comes with a marketing placard in the main triangle of the bike. Businesses who sign on with FreeBike Project may get 3 or 300 bikes depending on their size. (They don't have any 300 sized clients...yet). The marketing campaign lasts the entire semester where the bike may be seen in person on campus, cruising nearby streets, or in student fired social media blasts.

Seen on USC campus with Johan and Kim
Students sign up, pay a 'holding fee' or 'security deposit', and get a bike to use all semester. The guys offer free maintenance and tons of incentives for posting the coolest pictures with the bikes.

It gives students a pair of wheels to get around campus and a unique way of supporting their favorite businesses. It also gives them a creative outlet to explore and define the future of online a desired demographic the 18-25 age range. It's a great idea, right?

But wait! There's MORE. At the end of the semester they return the bike, get their money back, AND in turn send a bike to our Bikes for the Philippines project. That's exactly right, each FreeBike rider represents a new student rider in Bohol. How cool is that? Students love it, on both sides of the globe.

The FreeBike Project donates the cost of shipping one bike to Bikes for the World earmarked for Bikes for the Philippines for every single rider they have. At the end of this semester, that was 90 riders. And the riders (and businesses) take pride in the (little) effort it took to provide this ride to a student overseas, giving him or her the means to stay enrolled in school and graduate. Ride to class...change a life. That was easy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Wheels On The Bike Go Round And Round

Wolfie's Bike Train
May is Bike Month. Bike to Work, May 17th. Bike to School, May 8th. And the Vienna Bike/Walk Challenge is ON. This is the fifth year for the challenge amongst Vienna schools. It's a week long challenge (competition, you might say!) where schools encourage students to walk or bike to school.

And Wolftrap Elementary School is up to the challenge, what with their Nickelodeon famous Wolfie's Bike Train and all. This guy, Jeff Anderson, just sets out with his family riding to school and kids come from every corner to join him. It's pretty cool. (And as of Monday, Wolftrap had the most participants in the challenge!)

Anderson came up with a route to school that weaves through the neighborhoods picking up kids along the way. They just wait on the corner as if they are waiting for a bus. But they are on a bike and the bus passes them by. Then Anderson pulls up and moms come running after him to put backpacks and instruments in his trailer he pulls behind. Some of the parents even ride with the group to Wolftrap Elementary.

Today, May 6th, Bikes for the World was invited to ride along with the group. As the region was scattered with rain showers, this message came into the BfW World Headquarters:

630am update.  As of right now the bike train is running today Tuesday.   Weather looks bad later in the day but this AM looks to be cooperative.....  Fingers crossed.

 ...and the ride was on. About 30 bikes ended up in the bike racks today by the time the first bell rang. Some days the racks, donated by Bikes @ Vienna, are filled to capacity.

Kids got a brief introduction to Bikes for the World and a reminder that Wolfie's Bike Train is collecting bikes this week that will be given to people in need all over the world.

Cycling School Bus in the UK
This idea of a pedaling school bus is really catching on. We saw this update from our partner BEN in Namibia where a local German-language secondary school held the first 'cycling school bus' in Namibia  last month in April. The cycling school bus is a simple strategy adopted by many countries worldwide that gets kids to school safely and with a big smile on their faces. They gather at a meeting point near their homes, ride to school, and home again. Older learners can ride by themselves, while younger children can be supported by parents and teachers.
Bikes for the Philippines Education Program

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Featured Volunteer: Otterbein UM Church Collects Another 200 Bikes

2,230 bicycles and 78 sewing machines

That's more bikes than we've shipped to over half of our overseas partners! That's almost five containers of bikes donated. For the projects we support more frequently like Village Bicycle Project or Goodwill Panama, that's an entire year's worth of bicycles we would donate to them. From ONE church...Otterbein United Methodist Church. Otterbein sets the bar high...then they compact it for shipping!

Otterbein United Methodist is located in Hagerstown Maryland and they have been partnered with Bikes for the World since we started in 2005. The last weekend in April for the past decade they have had an annual bike drive with BfW. But do the math: 2,000 divided by 10 is still 200. That means every collection Otterbein has been accepting, processing, and loading about 200 bikes EVERY single year, religiously. Pun intended.

Some years see more bikes than others. Last year they didn't quite break 200. One year they got 400 bikes.  In 2013 with a last minute addition of a few bikes in Greencastle PA they will definitely meet their 200 goal and then some.

How, you ask? It's not because they are way out in Hagerstown away from any other bike collections, although it may help a little. Otterbein has been committed to this effort since the start and Cindy Brown, Director of Programs has been promoting it heavily ever since.

She cites the regularity of the collection, the same weekend every year, as part of the reason for their success. She's actually scheduled Otterbein collections through 2016! And they work with other groups like police departments and recycling centers to divert bikes to their annual collection rather than landfills.

Courtesy Cindy Brown
They also gets the word out through media outlets, flyers, emails...And as you can see occasionally they reinvent the wheel. This big bike is parked at various locations around town leading up to the big event. You can't miss it! Cindy has been exploring new options with social media. This group doesn't sit still! They are changing with the times and always looking for something new. This year they gave out notepads with the BfW logo on the back to all donors. And she always follows up with a thank you message.

What we saw at this collection was a community coming together to serve one common good. At Bikes for the World we are proud to be this bridge that allows all walks of life to come together in one community or church parking lot, as the case may be, to offer a valuable service to its community (recycling) that in turns offers another (affordable transportation) to another oceans away. And the bi-product at both ends appears to be lives changed.  That's a great days work!

From Cindy Brown:
 There are several reasons we continue to give to this effort. First - the stability of Bikes for the World reaches across local and global partnerships to address real human needs. Stories shared by recipients of bicycles are often astounding. Second - it is "recycling" at it's best! Our efforts provide a place other than an attic or the local landfill for these bikes to gather dust and rust; processing the bikes means the family, and medical care workers will be more accessible. Bicycling in America is predominantly recreational. For those whom we serve, the gift of a bike means survival and dignity.
Not only does our partnership with Bikes for the World extend to global projects, it creates a unique local opportunity for service and outreach. For Otterbein, it is one of many "parking lot" ministries offered throughout the year. Outreach on our lot brings together church neighborhood and members. This year's 37 bike collection volunteers included grandparents and grandchildren working side by side, neighbors with known history of conviction and incarceration, Eagle scouts, members of the church and their friends. This is a typcial cross-section whether we are worshiping together, conducting a program on the parking lot, or collaborating with other community agencies and resources. Our "official" mission statement is:

To be the body of Christ on this corner, serving and influencing the neighborhood and the larger community with the grace and power of God.

We value and enjoy the partnership with Bikes for the World which enables us to live out our mission and purpose.