Bikes for the World

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Featured Volunteer: Paul Keefer

"We're gaining momentum, but it's taking more time than I thought," Paul Keefer.

Seriously, keep your eyes on this guy. And don't listen to what he says...he's got a tailwind pushing him with a hurricane force.

Paul Keefer is behind our Bikes for the World South Carolina effort and he's a hard guy to stop or slow. He joined forces with us in the fall of 2015 and they are already gearing up to ship a container from his location possibly next month.

Let's break it down: This first thing Paul did was find Premier Logistics who generously donated warehouse space for our bikes. Then he armed himself with BfW facts and photos and started looking for collection managers to fill it with bikes. 

We helped jump start is effort by connecting him to one of our committed partners in North Carolina, Cape Fear Academy. Teacher, Becky Copenhaver has engaged her students in this project over the last few years and in 2015 she knocked our socks off, putting 121 bikes in Paul's hands.

Paul helped orient the managers running collections, he drove trucks, delivered supplies, loaded and unloaded bikes. Essentially he became the 'Keith Oberg' of the Carolinas. Next came the University of Coastal Carolina. And more bikes.

Then earlier this year in came an email from The Peak Church in NC. They wanted to hold a bike collection. We scratched our heads regarding logistics and kicked it to Paul. He didn't hesitate- YEAH, I GOT THIS!

It was quite a haul from Apex NC to Charleston SC...nearly 300 miles ONE WAY to be exact. But that effort brought in another 100 bikes.

Before we knew it Paul was sitting on half a container of bikes; things were shaping up nicely in the Carolinas. We could see a shipment coming from there early in 2017...and it's about to happen!

Paul and Michael Gregg

Paul switched gears and started doing outreach to grow the Bikes for the World name in the area. He started taking financial donations. He reached out to scouts, schools, and churches...looking for volunteers and collection locations.

The Carolina Youth Development Center stepped up and held the first event, netting a few bikes for the pile. Paul then tabled an event at North Charleston Community Days to help spread awareness for BfW and what we do.

The big break came when BfW put Paul in touch with United Methodist Church youth leaders.  Working with George Howle and Chris Lynch, Paul started brainstorming on how to bring together 12 regions on this collective effort to deliver bikes around the world.

And this Christmas, Union United Methodist Church in Irmo, SC was the first one to deliver. 26 brand new bikes to be exact! They set out with a goal to collect 13 bikes for Bikes for the World and Union UM came together and doubled it!

Paul now estimates about 300 bikes in the Hanahan warehouse. And forced us to address the need to load a shipment early in February (which we were eager to do given the warmer temperatures south)

The United Methodist goal is to collect 1200 bikes total; 100 from each region. Three of the regions are already planning collections with Paul; and he's got one on the calendar for April.

Couple that with the local bike shops he's working with and a recent connection with Tom Lawrence who offered another 300 bikes from his 20 year passion of collecting a repairing bikes and it's all coming together fast. Exactly like we thought. Yeah, he's got this.

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