Bikes for the World

Friday, May 8, 2015

One Weekend, Two Containers

On April 25, 2015 Bikes for the World hosted what we dubbed The Battle Beyond the Bridge, a friendly competition between East Side and West Side Maryland. Representing the East was a collection site hosted by George and Mary Medicus in Kent Island. In the West corner, Otterbein United Methodist Church, a strong contender, and crowd favorite.

Kent Island represented the Underdog backed by a powerful team of scouts from troop 495. The Battle was a squeaker with no losers. In fact the winners will be MiBici in Costa Rica and Pinelands Creative Workshop in Barbados, our next two container shipments slated to be loaded during Bike Week, next week, by corporate group CEB.

In the betting world what we ended up with was likely a Push. Basically, no one 'lost' the contest. Kent Island turned in a most impressive collection at 266 bikes. Otterbein United Methodist topped their total last year collecting 232 bikes and 13 sewing machines.

Both collection managers, George and Mary and Cindy Brown and Mike Johnston (of Otterbein UM) have been recognized by BfW as Featured Volunteers.

Both sites, additionally collected mobility aids such as crutches, canes and walkers. This was in response to a request from BfW recipient partner Ability Bikes in Ghana. Ability Bikes is a co-op bike shop owned and operated by individuals with disabilities.

We had such an incredible turn out for these specialty requested items we will likely also be sending many to our partner Goodwill Panama.

Sewing machines will be in the container next week for Costa Rica.

Total bikes collected the weekend of April 25-26? 717 BIKES! But we really do need to acknowledge the effort turned in by Otterbein United Methodist.  They have been with us from the start and since their first annual collection they have now collected 2,607 bicycles and 94 portable sewing machines. 

Otterbein UM continues to hold the BfW record for a one-day, single-site turn out at 402 bikes in 2009. Since then they regularly collect over 200 bikes every last Saturday in April.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Featured Volunteer: George and Mary Medicus

Meet the Medicuses. George and Mary Medicus make up the husband/wife team of our featured volunteer  this month (with a special honorable mention for their Granddaughter, Julia). George and Mary have organized and managed our Kent Island collection since 2013. This year they set a personal goal of 200 bikes to double what they collected their first year. They shattered it by collecting 266 bikes!

Mary and George, working together, really mobilize the entire community to make this collection a huge success. They work with area businesses who help support the collection by funding the advertising efforts which include hundreds of flyers and print and radio interviews.

Returning again this year was boy scout troop 495 who did a majority of the wrenching during the collection. Their son was a member of this troop 30 years ago and today, just as then, this troop proves to be a dedicated, involved, caring group of scouts and families.

One change this year was the collaboration of five different recycling centers in the area. They had tried to get them on board last time to no avail. This time Mary had decided to attend a council meeting to re-introduce the idea of collecting bikes at the recycling center. By just putting her name on the agenda, the connection was made.

By the time we arrived Saturday morning (even before the scheduled collection time) there were probably 100 bikes already on site. With a team of pickups and trailers George and his crew were busy transporting bikes from the waste transfer stations to the collection site. Meanwhile bikes were rolling in from donors dropping them off too.

Looking for added muscle to help process all these bikes, we put a wrench in Julia's hands. At five years old, we believe Julia may be our youngest volunteer to date! And she absolutely was taking those pedals off all by herself. She needed a little help turning the bikes over but then look out.

Julia is actually how this partnership all started. When George and Mary went looking for a used bike trailer to haul her around on bike they came across Keith Oberg and Bikes for the World.

George and Mary on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge last year
George and May have literally been around the world on bike. They remember fondly rides across Maryland, the not-to-be-missed Seagull Century, and trips down the C&O. They also loved riding Idaho's Bitterroot Mountains, becoming closer to nature along Anchorage's bike trails, exploring Bejing's hidden neighborhoods, touring atop Tuscany town walls, and tooling around the Netherlands in awe of the bike culture flourishing there.

Their daughter recalls a trip about 15 years ago that put a halt to their tours on tandem when they took a bad fall in New Zealand. This was before everyone was uber connected by the internet and she was home trying to get more information about how her parents were. Mary spent some time in the hospital and George was taken in by a friendly Kiwi. Even though they were swiped from their bicycle built for two they continued on with the vacation, hiking on crutches.

Yes, this is Mary on that one speed bike
So how do we get from riding bikes on vacation to tackling a huge bike collection? Let's go back even further and let Mary tell you about her start with bikes:

"I guess to understand why we wanted to hold collections, you'd have to go back to the 1950's when biking brought magic, mystery, and mischief into our childhoods. I loved my 1955 sturdy one-speed. As soon as I got home from school, I changed into my cotton, plaid 'biking' dress put my little plastic-covered flip-top note pad with its own pencil holder in the bike basket, and sped off to explore my neighborhood Wilson Point, in Middle River, Maryland. I pretended I was a detective--a coupe-less, 2 wheeling, Nancy Drew--filling that note pad with careful observations and queries."

George also remembers fondly his days on a bike exploring his Baltimore neighborhood. In fact, in typical boy fashion, George managed to find trouble on one 20 mile ride when he and his buddy got a little too close to a company's property. It resulted in a call to his parents and a disappointing ride home in the family car for boy and bike.

"The magic of those afternoon neighborhood bike rides has never left me," Mary reminisces. "I rode my bike daily to the local playground, through our alleys, with friends, by myself, on my sister's bike handlebars. I'm in year 70, and every time I jump on my bike, that old sense that there's something out there to discover returns. I'm 10 once again!"

"We're hoping every bike we collect will offer the sense of adventure and magic to someone else. Biking gives you independence, a freedom to navigate and transform your life. In our travels we've seen how essential bikes are for vast numbers of people. Entire houses have been built with supplies transported on bikes! Degrees have been earned, paychecks pocketed, romances built--all through biking," George and Mary Medicus.