Bikes for the World

Friday, March 27, 2015

BfW's Newest Partner Helping Students In Morocco

Bikes for the World's next shipment of bikes is heading to Northern Africa to a group called Darna in Tangier, Morocco. This pilot effort will mostly serve the youth project, the bikes being distributed to kids ages 8-15.

This is our first time shipping to Darna (meaning Our House) and only their second container of bikes ever, the other delivered from a French group about seven years ago. Depending on the success of the received shipment, we hope to continue donating bikes to this group in the future.

Our bikes will be used for youth empowerment, the majority to be distributed to students to assist in their commutes to school in Tangier.

Darna runs comprehensive social programs including a youth community house, women's community house, and a teaching farm. The youth and women's houses provide temporary homes for children and women at-risk. They also provide various training programs to help them re-integrate into society.

The Farm School helps encourage agricultural development and a return to the agricultural sector outside of Tangier. The Farm houses 30 children, many boys at-risk. The boys receive agricultural training while there, as well as training in agricultural machinery repair.

The boys at the Farm School will be learning the mechanical skills needed to help refurbish our donated bikes to put them into use for this program.

Bikes will be made available to youth living in nearby, low-income apartments to help them get to and from school.

One of Darna's main focuses is to get kids off dangerous streets and into school where they receive an education and learn job skills. They are also surrounded by positive role models that help provide a community of learning and empowerment.

This initial container of bikes will serve to address two focuses in Darna's overall mission. First, boys enrolled in the Farm School will learn valuable mechanic skills while repairing bikes donated through Bikes for the World. Second, many youth, especially young girls, will receive a bicycle to help them get an education and travel quickly through the dangerous streets of Tangier.

Girls on the streets who are illiterate and uneducated often find themselves forced into a life of prostitution and eventually face drug abuse and AIDS. The Girls' Center at Darna provides girls with emergency, transitional, and long term housing; professional and civic training; and an education in not only reading, writing and arithmetic but also in their rights and duties as citizens.

Photos courtesy DARNA.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Carroll Creek Rotary Club Gets a Jump On Collecting Bikes

Norm Birzer, Dick Foot, Pat Gunnin, Greg Light, and Phil Ruth

Bikes for the World is proud to partner again with the Carroll Creek Rotary Club for their annual bike collection in Frederick Maryland. So far this year, they have already collected 100 bikes in this effort....and the collection isn't until April 11th!  

at Triangle Motors
Address:  1790 North Market St, Frederick MD 21701
Time: 9am - 1pm
Richard: or 203.505.7088

Rotarians Norm Birzer, Dick Foot, Pat Gunnin, and Greg Light joined with Bikes for the World volunteer Phil Ruth to load 80 bicycles on the Bikes for the World truck and trailer (an impressive load!). These bikes were collected over the winter in anticipation of the annual community bicycle collection to be conducted on Saturday April 11th.

The bicycles have been stored in Buzz Macintosh's vacant dairy barn, where Rotarians prepared bikes for shipment. We collected the bikes from the Carroll Creek Rotary Club early for two reasons: one is for space. In anticipation of a record setting collection next month, BfW needed to make sure we could get all the bikes in the truck on April 11th. Picking up early allows us to make two trips, ensuring we can easily transport over 200 bikes.

Beneficiary students in Bohol Philippines
More importantly, we are sending a shipment of bikes to a new potential partner called Darna in Morocco the first week in April. We wanted to include some of the bikes collected in Frederick for this container. Getting them into our warehouse now will allow us to send some to Africa before April 11th. Our second donated container in April will be heading to our education project in the Philippines where the remainder of bikes collected through the Carroll Creek Rotary Club's efforts will be sent. These bikes will help students in need get to and from school on time and eventually graduate.

Rotarian and BfW collection manager Dick Foot has pulled together an entire community network of volunteers to contribute to this bike collecting effort. The Visitation Academy, Mount Saint Mary's University, Frederick Community College, Hood College, the Bicycle Escape, Wheelbase, and Triangle Motors, where the collection will take place on April 11th are all currently collecting items to be donated to BfW.

Already Rotarian Tom Meacham, principal of Triangle Motors, reports that a dozen additional bikes have been dropped off at Triangle Motors, in anticipation of the Saturday April 11th community collection.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Turning Grease Into Bronze

Bikes for the World works with dozens of Boy Scouts throughout the year on Eagle projects where they collect bikes to be donated overseas. And we've found the girls LOVE working with us too. So we've made an effort to reach out to area Girl Scout troops to partner with them on collections and in the warehouse.

When asked about volunteering with us, the girls are usually very enthusiastic and that doesn't die down once we put a tool in their hands. The experience is valuable to these young girls who often work alongside Dad, get experience working with a team and following instruction, and actually learn a thing or two about how a bike works and how to use a few basic tools. Gaining mechanical confidence around their bikes is something these girls will take on the road with them for years to come.

The following is an article from Girl Scout Troop 5740, who worked with us in the warehouse:
On Saturday, February 28, 2015 we volunteered with Bikes for the World to fulfill community service requirements to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award. 
We met at the Bikes for the World warehouse on Eads Street in Arlington, Virginia and volunteered for four hours.We used tools to take apart bikes to ship to Kenya in large containers.We made the bikes smaller by taking off the pedals, lowering the seat and turning the handlebars.
Bikes for the World collects bikes of all models in repairable condition (no tricycles), bike accessories and tools.They partner with non-profits globally to provide affordable used bikes to low-income recipients for access to school, work and healthcare.
We learned a new skill, we got to ride unicycles and bikes with motorcycle wheels.We watched them load 478 bikes into one big shipping container.
We had fun, we worked hard and we helped others in need.We even got dirty! If you want to get involved, check out their website

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."