Bikes for the World

Monday, April 11, 2016

2,245 Bikes Donated

Those dedicated Rotarians are at it again! Last year under the direction of Richard Foot the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek collected 279 bikes during their annual April bike collection event in Frederick.

On April 12, 2015 Dick Foot declared, this year we intend to collect one bike a day until the next collection And that's just what they set out to do.

By March they already had nearly 300 bikes, many of which Bikes for the World had picked up early to ship out to our partners in need of bikes. At that time, we upped the challenge for the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek to collect enough bikes to fill a shipping container.

And on April 9, 2016, the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek took in their final bike of the 2016 collection challenge event. Shattering all previous collection years, the Rotarians collected, prepped, and loaded 539 bikes this year. And yes, that WILL fill a container.

This also brings their eleven year total to 2,245 bikes collected and donated to Bikes for the World.

Richard Foot devised this motivational challenge of a "bike-a-day" to not only collect more bikes this year than last, but to also stress Bikes for the World's own key phrase, Changing Lives One Bike at a Time. One bike can really make a difference. One single bike helps up to four people, from the mechanic overseas who earns a living fixing bikes, to the family who relies on it for work or errands, or the student who uses it to get to school. And one bike a day here at home, turned into an entire shipment of bikes.

During this year's event at Triangle Motors, Richard met one of his youngest donors to date. Six-year old Alexis Nicholas received a new bike this past Christmas and she wanted to make sure another little girl could enjoy her old bike. So she brought it to the collection, "you can give it to someone who doesn't have a bike and can't afford one," she said.

In order to meet this bike-a-day goal, Richard rallied the troops. He called on quite a few members of the community who stepped up and helped collect bikes, store bikes, and also prep them for shipping. Hood Rotaract Club has been helping with this collection for years. Shane Sellers of Frederick Community College has also been delivering bikes to this collection for as long as we can remember.

New this year: believing that it is almost criminal to not recycle a bicycle, the Rotary Club established partnerships with the Brunswick and Thurmont Police Departments. Lost and stolen bicycles that were not reclaimed were transferred throughout the year to the Rotary Club who stored them in a vacant dairy barn.

"It's such a simple concept, but it has such an impact," said Richard. For many of us here a bicycle is seen more as a toy or recreational device. For many of our beneficiaries it's an important tool to a better life.

As an added bonus, the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek even added a satellite operation. Thomas Greiner chose Bikes for the World for his Eagle Scout Project and collected bikes in New Market that were also folded into this larger effort. It's this effort that put them over the top and enabled them to meet that added goal of filling an entire container.

A job well done by all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Featured Volunteer: Stone Ridge Does It Again

This month we recognize the efforts of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (again). This is the second time Bikes for the World is recognizing this group, but we feel it is beyond earned. Stone Ridge is guided by five Sacred Heart Goals, one of which is a “social awareness which impels to action.” The Stone Ridge Social Action group is comprised of juniors and seniors who go out into the community twice a month to make a difference. Bikes for the World has been a proud beneficiary of this effort through five graduating classes.

This year's crew is comprised of: Suzanne Antoniou '16, Erin Barry '17, CC Cozza '16, Anneliese Goetz '16, Chloe Lacombe '17, Julianna Long '16, Meagan Rock '16, and Emma Topercer '17.

This impactful partnership began in 2011 with two students who joined us at our warehouse in Rockville to help load and prep bikes for donation around the world. Now, the 2016/17 graduating crew has swelled to eight women who join us in Arlington. Here, in addition to assisting with loading, they also perform the more intricate task of stripping parts off marginal bikes to include in those shipments.

The even bigger impact we’ve seen from their work locally, however, is the impression they leave on other volunteers. Just in the last year, Bikes for the World has seen growth in the number of young girls who have joined our volunteer ranks to help us use tools to prepare bikes for donation around the world. Seeing a strong group of young women in the back of our warehouse using tools and getting grease under their fingernails has empowered other girls to do the same. Picking up a wrench, hammer, or a huge set of bolt cutters to remove a rusty chain typically begins and ends with the smile of a young girl not accustomed to using such tools. The Stone Ridge Social Action program has not only brought capable young women from Stone Ridge into our warehouse, but it continues to inspire other female-centric groups to come get their hands dirty with us too.

 "I’m continuously impressed by the initiative that the students take to teach one another and lead by example. I’m convinced that experiential learning is imperative for youth to gain not just passive knowledge, but hands-on skills which can be replicated in many fields. Watching the older students take it upon themselves to walk the younger students through the ins-and-outs of the Bikes for the World warehouse and our activities is inspiring. I’m also happy to see young women excited about working with their hands and learning their way around a workbench.”
–BfW Operations Manager Taylor Jones

“Absorbing lots of information is nothing new for students; however, these students distinguish themselves with the calm focus with which they analyze the unique challenges every bike part presents. They methodically select relevant tools and use them to coax brakes, handlebars, crank sets, wheels, etc. off frames destined for the scrap yard.” -Stone Ridge teacher Ken Woodard.

Back in April, the 2015/16 Stone Ridge crew loaded a container of bikes for our partner in the Philippines. The entire shipment, from collectingbikes, repurposing parts, and loading the container was all accomplished by students in the DC area. Those bikes are about to be distributed in half a dozen schools on several Philippine islands. The bikes will help students at risk of dropping out stay in school and graduate.

Girls there are also learning to use wrenches and navigate greasy chains. Each student beneficiary is required to adjust brakes and know how to repair a flat tire. These are skills we hope to instill in all our volunteers at home as well. Knowing how to change a flat tire or tighten brakes is a valuable skill to take on the road as a cyclist. Helping young girls become familiar with bikes and the tools necessary to maintain a safe ride is an important by-product of our volunteer work. Working in pairs, as we see many Stone Ridge girls doing in our workshop, or learning the value of leveraging a tool properly, is like opening a door to success to many of our young girls in the warehouse.

“I’ve seen many girls tentative at first to even pick up a tool larger than they’ve ever held, but within minutes they are often teaching their parents and peers the best way to remove a rusty pedal. The story of Stone Ridge and their efforts to help change lives around the world is inspiring to schools, scout troops, families, and even individual volunteers. Seeing the effect of one simple act and the ripples that accompany it is what makes this organization so great. It’s as simple and powerful as a bicycle.” –BfW Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess