Bikes for the World

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Featured Volunteer: Nathan Cross

This guy. This guy is a valuable part of the Bikes for the World team. Meet Nathan Cross, debonair cyclist, committed volunteer, mechanic, and accomplished component recycler. Nathan strips parts off bikes that are shipped to our overseas partner mechanics. Those mechanics are using those valuable parts to put your old bikes back together, fixing them up to become valuable modes of transportation for work, school, and medical purposes.

The bottom line is you donated your bike to us for a reason. Often, that reason is the bike needs a tune up or sometimes major repairs. While our recipient partners would probably love to open a container and have all the bikes inside be in perfect working order, that's just never the case.

And that's not a bad thing. Many of the groups we partner with in Africa and Central America have sustainable programs in place that help employ local workers and empower businesses. Our donated bikes are distributed throughout many communities by our partners and put into the hands of local shop owners who were often trained by the same organizations. Our partners find entrepreneurs in remote villages and offer bike mechanic skills training to help them start thriving businesses.

 Over the past year Bikes for the World has made a huge effort to get more and more spare parts to these small remote bike shops to help those mechanics repair your old bikes and keep them in good working order.

Guys like Nathan help us make that possible. Several times a month he'll ride in on his bike from work to help us attack the mountain of junk bikes we have in the back corner. A 'junk bike' may be a frame that is bent or broken that still has good quality used parts on it. Rather than take that to the recycling center as is, we want to salvage as many workable parts as possible to be included in our containers donated overseas.

Nathan says he has no formal training, just tinkering with his own bikes from the time he was a kid. He's an avid cyclist who was looking to volunteer in Arlington. He wanted to make a difference and he was looking for a hands-on, physical activity and found us. Lucky us!

"I really enjoy the time spent in the warehouse, it feels great to be doing something I love and helping people in other parts of the world. Seeing the photos of shipping containers being opened by excited recipients is especially gratifying," says Nathan. He's proud of the work he is doing and it shows. And we all love to see the results of that work once those rescued components arrive overseas.

Edgardo- El Salvador
On the other side, meet Edgardo. Edgardo is learning to do what Nathan does, in reverse. When our bikes arrive overseas they need to be reassembled and tuned up. Many or our recipient partners either work with local bike shop owners or run programs on site employing mechanics who refurbish your old donated bikes.

For Edgardo this process has more than one component. He is part of CESTA in El Salvador, one of our dozen regular partners. CESTA works with at risk youth to help guide them to better futures and keep them safe from dangerous gangs.

Edgardo uses his bicycle to get to the shop and to school. At the shop he is learning valuable skills like how to tune a bicycle and do minor repairs. He also enjoys participating in the conflict resolution programs CESTA offers in addition to the hands on bike workshop.

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