It's been a somewhat 'gypsy' existence taking advantage of donated or concessional space over the past decade or more, but the time has come to set down a few roots. Either that or there were no more abandoned buildings (or prisons) to take over.
Now, we are back in Montgomery County after a few years hiatus, this time with a five year paid lease. Read: We're sticking around for a while!
This new space is more centrally located to all the collection points we host throughout the year whether it's our seasonal community led events or our year long partnerships with bike shops in MD, VA, and DC. We've also, for the first time, combined our warehouse and office giving us the flexibility to open the warehouse up to volunteers on a more regular basis...while we are hard at work at our computers.
It's also afforded us the comfort to feel secure enough to put up sturdy permanent shelving and introduce a concept many volunteers have asked for over the years, organization for all levels. In fact, organizing the warehouse was the talk of the Warehouse Warming Party on April 8 when we opened our doors to you, our supporters, volunteers, and donors.
"Wow! Who came up with that wall (with the parts bins)? That's amazing!" Who's idea was it to use those old bike frames to organize the tires and get them off the floor?" Meet Bob Leftwich, our Operations Manager if you haven't already. Bob knows his way around a bike shop, having owned and managed one for over 35 years. And he likes his space organized. And you love him for it.
It's been a dream of BfW to have this type of organization in our parts room. Now with clearly marked bins volunteers of any level can sort or pack spare parts for shipments or storage. Our mechanic volunteers can now build up frames missing parts so that we send full bikes to our partners- giving those mechanics overseas a leg up when our donated bikes arrive en masse.
Volunteers can also interact with staff more frequently and ask all kinds of questions about the program or partners with our office right there in the warehouse. When Yvette Hess, Outreach Coordinator, is plugging away at her desk you can drop in and ask about the latest shipment or newest partner. "I just got back from Barbados and it was truly a delight to see how our partner there is using your old bikes to build a better, stronger neighborhood in their community," said Yvette during the party. "It's quite different from the other partners I've visited, but no less important."
|BfW board member John Burg loads a bike for Madagascar|
It was the first time some of our collection volunteers ever got to see what happens to the bikes they collect at their schools or churches. "That's just incredible. I'd love to see them unload those bikes on the other end," said one volunteer.
|Mike Johnston and Bob closing the container|
Otterbein United Methodist Church was our first collection partner to achieve this mark way back in 2009. At their collection this year on April 29th we fully expect them to surpass 3,000 bikes donated! Otterbein also holds the record for the number of sewing machines donated to BfW.
|Keith Oberg, Sam, and Tom Clingman|
We'll have much more on that effort later this month. (Don't be surprised if they also break the 3,000 mark- and yes we know that means they will need to collect 900 bikes this year).
Perhaps a little early, perhaps not, BfW awarded a 1k Club plaque to the Glenwood Lions Club too. This group, working alongside the Glenwood Middle School LEOs, is poised to break 1,000 during their May 6th collection. We actually know they've already got #1,000 in storage so we went ahead and recognized them during our party. Stay tuned next month for an update on them.
The address, in case you missed our warehouse warming party, is 11720 Parklawn Dr, Rockville MD 20852, or North Bethesda if you prefer. We hope you'll stop in and see us sometime. You can drop a bottom bracket in a bin, roll a bike on a container, or ask a question of the staff...or just chill on the couch. Yeah, we got that too!