Bikes for the World

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bringing Communities Together Across the Globe

Bikes for the World celebrated Bike to Work day this year in the warehouse, which given the day's forecast was not a bad idea! We did support the Rockville Town Center pit stop this year and saw a surprising number of die hard cyclists riding to work Friday morning.

Meanwhile, the staff from CEB was convening on our Arlington warehouse for a day filled with a number of important tasks, including a loading for Kenya and prepping the warehouse for the massive influx of bikes arriving this week from DICK'S Sporting Goods.

Nairobi bike beneficiaries. Courtesy Bina Bilenky
The container we loaded will be heading to Wheels of Africa next week, set to arrive in July. Wheels of Africa works with the cycling tour group Tour d'Afrique to donate bikes to select groups in areas the cycling tour touches. It's a way for their riders to give back to the communities they visit.

Bina Bilenky of Philadelphia, just completed the tour which ended in South Africa this month. Earlier in the ride they traveled through Kenya where she met Wheels of Africa and witnessed the bike donation ceremony in Nairobi. She sent us this photo of our bike beneficiaries.

B4H Wisconsin. Courtesy Jerry Tyler
What made this shipment even more unique than the others is the impressive number of bikes about to arrive in Kenya in July...over 850 bikes! This is possible because we teamed up with another group in Wisconsin also looking to ship bikes to Kenya.

Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) Oregon, Wisconsin recently approached us seeking assistance in making its first overseas shipment. The folks at B4H-Oregon, WI wanted to support the health care activities of a small program in rural Kenya, but wasn't exactly sure how to ship the container of bikes most efficiently.

Conversations led to a four-party agreement between BfW, B4H-Wisconsin, Wheels of Africa, and the community health program in Wagasu, Western Kenya. Together we would get a small number of bikes to that rural community as well as a good number of high-quality bikes and spare parts to the Wheels of Africa program.

Courtesy Jerry Tyler
"Bikes for the World envisions a national movement to collect surplus US bikes and distribute them to partner programs around the world. In turn, these programs repair and distribute these bikes to individuals, together transforming their lives and their communities through enhanced mobility and productivity. 

"This vision encompasses not just the Washington DC metropolitan area-Bikes for the World's home region. It extends to our long-time friends in Chicago, St. Louis, and now Oregon, Wisconsin."  Director, Bikes for the World Keith Oberg on the continuing expansion of BfW.

BfW partnered with St. Louis Bicycle Works last year to help them pack, ship, and place bikes overseas with our established international partners.  BfW did the same with this new group in Wisconsin, B4H-Wisconsin.

CEB prepping warehouse for DICK'S bikes deliveries
With the partnership with national retailer DICK'S Sporting Goods, BfW anticipates receiving about 5,000 bikes in the next couple weeks. Most of these bikes will be stored in our Arlington warehouse until they are shipped out over the next couple months to most of our current international partners.

Several containers will also be delivered to US partners, Working Bikes in Chicago and St. Louis Bicycle Works. Together we hope to donate 20,000 bikes globally in 2014.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kick Off Bike Month In Style

"Bikes for the World is proud to partner for a third year with DICK'S Sporting Goods, the nation's preeminent sporting goods retailer, to help Americans acquire a new bike, and ride more, while putting their old bike to good use, transforming lives around the world. Our third year national partnership with DICK'S Sporting Goods confirms both parties' joint commitment to building a cycling culture worldwide," said Keith Oberg, Director Bikes for the World.

From Sunday, May 4 to Saturday May 10, consumers will have the opportunity to support the initiative by bringing in their used bike to a local DICK'S Sporting Goods store. Through Bikes for the World, the bikes donated during this period will be repurposed and distributed to lower income communities in the U.S. and around the world. Individuals who participate in the trade-in will also receive a discount toward a new bike purchase.

"We are excited to continue our third annual partnership with Bikes for the World, furthering our company's mission to provide more people access to suitable athletic equipment," said Lauren Hobart, Chief Marketing Officer of DICK'S Sporting Goods. "Together, with Bikes for the World, we're hoping to expand the footprint of this philanthropic program and continue to give back to communities in need."

Oberg continues, "as a result of last year's collaboration, we expanded our deliveries of suitable used bicycles to lower-income communities by almost 50%, enhancing many more livelihoods through better transportation and generating skilled employment in bicycle repair and maintenance."

Last year, Bikes for the World donated over 13,500 bikes globally to a dozen partners worldwide. Beneficiaries such as Dankay (right) learn to ride through BfW partners such as Village Bicycle Project in Sierra Leone. Dankay is an 8 year old orphan and her donated bike gives her hope and encouragement to continue her education and to believe in herself.

Courtesy Bikes Not Bombs
Ability Bikes Cooperative is a new Bikes for the World partner operating in Ghana. Thanks to the partnership with DICK'S Sporting Goods we were able to ship our first container to this group established in 2008.

Ability Bikes Cooperative is a worker-owned bike shop based in Koforidua, Ghana. It is owned and operated by physically challenged people, like Miriam (left) who were afflicted by polio. Ability Bikes imports, refurbishes, and sells our donated bikes at affordable prices to working people who need them.

This year Bikes for the World expects to send a third container of 500 bikes to Bikes for the Philippines to help expand the bikes for education program in the Philippines. Just last month a second school district was added to the program in Maribojoc on the island of Bohol. Maribojoc was devastated after the 2013 earthquake. As they rebuild, the bike program continues to provide hope to the students enrolled in the program.

Jake Palijado (right) was one of the first bike beneficiaries in the program. He graduates this year from Baclayon National High School and will then join Bikes for the Philippines to help maintain bikes for the program in Maribojoc as well as to serve as a mentor to new beneficiaries.

The bikes collected through DICK'S Sporting Goods will allow us to send another container of bikes to the Philippines to keep more students from dropping out due to transportation, financial, and time burdens on the family.

Bikes for the World partners with non-profit agencies in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. To date Bikes for the World has donated bicycles to 21 non-profit community development organizations in 17 countries. Find the full list on our website as well as a number of success stories from our beneficiaries.

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.