Bikes for the World

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Honoring the Life and Love of James McMullen

The Regional Lead School for the Arts (RLSAA) is living up to its name in the Philippines. This is one of the first high schools introduced into the education system in the Philippines. Previously, schools only went to grade 10 with students graduating at age 15 or 16. As expanded high schools are introduced, students now have the opportunity to complete two more years of high school and graduate at age 18.

Second group of bike beneficiaries at RSLAA
Bikes for the Philippines began a pilot project at RLSAA last year. They approached half a dozen "Out of School Youth" who had originally graduated from the old school system. In an effort to bring them back to school to finish those added two years of high school, they offered them a bicycle to use to commute to class.

With the container Bikes for the World shipped last year, BfP was able to expand the number of beneficiaries at RLSAA.

Bike beneficiaries use bikes to complete art assignments
The addition of RLSAA to the Bikes for the Education program has brought increased media attention to this effort to bring bikes to students and the importance of continued education throughout the country. Because Filipinos cannot legally work until they are 18, the added two years of high school keeps them engaged and invested in their education until they can begin careers after graduation.

This school's proximity to Manila has brought great media attention to this effort, generating excitement and enthusiasm in the program. Because this is an election year in the Philippines, this focus on education is coming at an important time.

Having beneficiaries close to the BfP warehouse also brings added, and much welcome, help to the process of bringing in donated bikes from the United States and getting them ready for use by students.

Diego is a bike beneficiary at RSLAA
Diego is a student at RLSAA and a bike beneficiary. He is 17 and on target to graduate in 2017. Diego knows the importance of a good education, both parents are college graduates.

 He is well rooted in the arts. His mother is a pre-school teacher and also teaches music. His dad is a puppeteer who makes his own puppets. Diego hopes to follow his parents' footsteps and his love of the arts by studying graphic arts in school. He hopes to open his own business after graduation.

Diego uses his bike to get to and from school and also to travel to an off site studio to continue his studies. He is also able to help look after his younger brother now that he can travel faster between assignments.

James McMullen served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines
Bikes for the World named the 2015 container donated to Bikes for the Philippines arriving in July in honor of the late James McMullen who passed away in May 2015. McMullen was an avid cyclist and popular teacher in DC. He also served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines in the 70s.

His widow Betty Scott chose Bikes for the World, specifically our education project in the Philippines, as the honorary beneficiary of donations honoring her husband's life and passion.

Because of Scott's background as a music educator and her current role as the Director of Strathmore's Artist in Residence program, BfP chose to honor this generous gift in part through their efforts at RSLAA, a school focused on the arts. McMullen was also a talented photographer who brought that love into his school and to his students through a photography club that he oversaw while teaching at McKinley Tech.

Donations received in memory of James McMullen will help fund two additional shipments of bikes to our Bikes for Education Project over the next year. Each container will hold over 500 bikes and be directed to help students attend school in the Philippines.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Do They Do That?!

Students from RLSAA unload container from BfW
In July of 2015, Bikes for the World shipped its third container of bikes to our education project with Bikes for the Philippines. This brought our total number of bikes donated to the program to 1,500. It also allowed Bikes for the Philippines to expand their effort into several new schools.

One of those new schools was the Regional Lead School for the Arts in Angono Rizal (RLSAA).  A pilot effort began early last year with seven students who all graduated last May, just when our container set sail for the Philippines.

After the container arrived in Luzon and cleared customs, our bikes were transported to the warehouse in Manila where volunteers would soon start refurbishing them to introduce into the Bikes for Education project.  Because RLSAA is located nearby, students met the truck and helped unload the bikes from Virginia USA.

Operating a bike program in a country made up of thousands of tiny islands is no small feat. If only we could clone Executive Director Joel Uichico! How many times have we said that same thing here at home regarding our own Executive Director Keith Oberg!?!

Cristy, Elvie, and Eunice
BfP is doing the next best thing. As they expand and add schools on all three main island groups, Luzon, Visayas, and soon Mindanao, Joel relies on the help from dedicated volunteers and passionate teachers and principals within the schools themselves to keep this program going.

Elvie Jabonilla (seen here between two beneficiaries who have graduated and gone on to college) is the principal at Fatima National High School in Bohol. She helped establish our first school project in Baclayon National High School, also in Bohol, in 2011, before moving on to Fatima where she is now overseeing the Bikes for Education project there.

Through these enthusiastic educators who are on the ground and working daily with students, Bikes for the Philippines is able to operate and serve hundreds of students over thousands of miles.

Volunteers in Manila warehouse
Volunteers who teach, mentor, and ride with students are also a critical part of keeping this program so successful. These mentors live in the same towns as the students while some also travel to other islands to participate in community rides with the kids.

The hub of activity remains in Manila and one reason for that is the large group of volunteers available there to help prepare the bikes for the program. Once the bikes are ready BfP then faces the challenge of transporting the bikes to the remote schools on other islands. Another network of volunteers helps make that transport possible.

Carlton Styron
Visits to the schools throughout the year are important to ensure the bikes are still working properly and the kids are staying safe on the roads. Carlton Styron (seen here to the right) has visited Bohol many times to help wrench bikes and train students in maintenance and care of their bikes.

Many schools are set up so that the older students are trained first so they can help mentor the younger ones coming up through the program. Graduating beneficiaries have also helped wrench bikes and initiate new schools into the program.

Bikes for the Philippines has identified over a dozen schools throughout the country and over 1,000 students who will be receiving bikes through the program this year. The program is designed to help keep kids enrolled in school until graduation and relies on fundraising in the United States to pay for the shipping container costs. Read more about a generous donation last year that is helping deliver the necessary bikes to these students.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Featured Volunteer: Reed Tech

This month we recognize one of our corporate volunteer groups Reed Tech. This is our third year working with this corporate group during one of their company supported community service days.

From Reed Tech: "Reed Tech and our parent companies, LexisNexis® and Reed Elsevier, play a positive local and global role by investing in our communities. We strive to make our communities better ones in which to live and work. Our community program works through LexisNexis Cares, a part of Reed Elsevier Cares. We share a mission to play a positive role in our local and global communities, primarily through employee involvement and empowerment."

Costa Rica
 Reed Tech joined us in 2014 to help load the container heading to Costa Rica that included our 100,000th donated bike. Gerardo, seen here, received that honorary bike and is using it to attend an academically advanced school where he received a scholarship. Given the distance the school is from his home, he would likely not be able to attend the school without this bike.

Reed Tech is an important part of Bikes for the World because their availability to join us during the week for a loading day, frees us up to focus on our bike collections on the weekend.

The 2016 crew, seen here, started a container that will be heading to Costa Rica this week. We loaded over 500 bikes and 2 sewing machines that will benefit several communities in Costa Rica.

While we waited for the container to be delivered on Friday, the Reed Tech crew worked to help us prep bikes that ultimately ended up in this donated shipment. They also helped organize our warehouse in preparation for our busy spring collection season, which stared this weekend.

Starting off our spring season we hosted three collection sites over the weekend. Those three sites brought in another 150 bikes. Reed Tech played a critical role in getting the warehouse ready to receive those bikes when they arrived.

Reed Tech loaded the container seen here arriving in Guinea-Bissau. Last year Bikes for the World added four new partners and Reed Tech helped us load containers for two of the same day!

During our work session Reed Tech employees helped us quickly finish the container heading to Guinea-Bissau before another container arrived that would need to be loaded for another new partner in Madagascar.

The program in Guinea-Bissau is largely focused on helping farmers and Madagascar is geared toward assisting Health Care Workers better care for patients.

More from Reed Tech: "Reed Tech employees share their time, personal talents and energy in support of local, national and international nonprofit organizations and the communities that they serve. Reed Tech encourages employees to get involved with nonprofit organizations that have meaning to them personally and offers two paid days each year to do it. Over the last two years, Reed Tech employees have volunteered over 14,000 hours in support of our community non-profit partners. Bikes for the world is one of these community non-profit partners that we are proud to be able to lend our volunteer support! "

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Beltway and Beyond: Collection Sites

Bike Madness Begins...

Moving on the right side of our brackets and in keeping with March Madness fun, let's take a look at where our collection predictions fall. Looking up at the board the community run collection side of our tournament contains nearly all our spring collection sites, with 34 slots available.

Two strong contenders are Arlington County's recycling event E-CARE (2,243 bikes overall) and Falls Church's Recycling Extravaganza (1,577 bikes overall). E-Care continues to collect nearly 100 bikes every single collection while Falls Church has seen a drop in results...we like to think that's because Bikenetic opened up and diverts some of those bikes through their shop. Since these numbers include TWO collections a year (spring and fall) let's look at some of the other powerhouses.

Otterbein United Methodist Church (2,607 bikes overall) leads the pack hands down. But the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (1,947 bikes overall), led by Dick Foot, is gunning for them. In 2015 Carroll Creek was our top dog with 305 bikes collected for the year. So far in 2016, Foot has rallied support in the community and already has nearly 300 bikes with over a month left to go before the actual collection date. No doubt these two neighboring counties will more than fill a container with bikes.

Otterbein UM has a tough first match up though against St. Joseph's Catholic Community/Wesley Freedom Church (1,544 bikes overall). This team of neighboring churches comes out strong late in the season but never disappoints. Look for one of these two 'teams' in the final four against the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

But take a look at those Scouts. Bikes for the World is currently working with NINE potential Eagle Scouts hoping to collect bikes for their Eagle Projects. Several other collection sites have also recruited scouts to help prep bikes at their events. Safe to say, this season is being led by our scout partners! And heads up...we have two opportunities March 19th to donate to these Eagle Projects, one at The Hill Center with Will from Troop 380 and REI Fairfax with Sam from Troop 1104.

We are pleased to have 17 brand new collection manager/sites joining us this 2016 season. We are excited to assist these newly recruited partners and look forward to connecting them to our partner programs overseas.

In the end there are no losers in this tournament. We are all working together toward one common goal of providing affordable, reliable transportation to rural workers, students and patients around the world. As all of our partners here and abroad come together we hope to connect used bikes to new owners and build businesses, families, and entire communities in the process.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Battle of the Beltway: Shops

Bike Madness Begins...

Bikes for the World donates over 12,000 bikes annually to more than a dozen groups around the world. Ever wonder where all those bikes come from? Here's the break down from our spring source---in bracket form :)

So, we have some interesting pairings above. On the left side of your brackets we have a varying source of bikes, coming from our bike shop partners, recycling centers, universities, etc. You'll find some fun competitions to watch as our collection season plays out.

The powerhouses here are Spokes Etc. Bicycles (2,590 bikes overall) out of Virginia and Race Pace Bicycles (1,294 bikes overall) from Maryland. In 2015 Spokes collected 720 bikes for Bikes for the World while Race Pace collected 392. The thing to note here is financial donations, which help us complete the mission. Over the last 5 years both bike shops took in $11,000 each in donations for Bikes for the World, giving Race Pace a slight edge in performance. In fact last year, Race Pace met our goal of $10 per bike thanks in large part to the generosity of the shop which makes up the difference from donors.

Both Spokes Etc. and Race Pace have five locations convenient to their cyclists and all ten shops collect bikes on our behalf. In 2015 these two Independent Bike Dealers collected nearly half of the 2,501 bikes collected by our bike shop partners around the DC Metro region.

City Bikes (1,262 bikes overall) is right on the heels of Race Pace with only three locations. Last year it was a tight race between The Bike Lane (115 bikes in 2015), The Bike Rack (110 bikes in 2015) and Bikenetic (136 bikes in 2015) for those 4th and 5th slots.

Condos and apartments (298 bikes in 2015) make up a large part of our donated bikes and this sector is growing. They are looking to overtake our Police Department (345 bikes in 2015) donations in this calendar year. Residential units have a good jump on 2016, with over 100 bikes so far.

The strong #2 category remains recycling centers despite a drop from Montgomery County's Shady Grove facility in 2015, who now shares bikes among several local organizations. In 2015 the I-95 Landfill (465 bikes in 2015) overtook Shady Grove (205 bikes in 2015) and they came out strong in 2016 with over 50 already.

The rivalries between collection managers are much more fun to watch, but don't count out this side of your bracket. This sector of bikes accounts for over half the bikes collected annually by Bikes for the World. Bike shops also help supply needed parts and tires for many of the donated bikes that are in need of repair. Their support helps support tiny rural bike shops scattered in Africa and Central America.