Bikes for the World

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Featured Volunteer: Larry Orwig

Larry Orwig is a Glenwood Lions member and extremely active in international service projects, including the BfW annual bike drive in Glenwood Maryland.

Larry is a huge cog in this finely tuned machine. And he's a key reason the Club celebrated reaching the 1,000 bikes collected mark this past spring.

"How many bikes  can one community give year-after-year. I keep thinking there must be a point when there are no more not-used bikes," ponders Mary Powers. Mary is the Glenwood Lions/Leos advisor that works closely with the Lions men and the students at Glenwood Middle School on this bike annual bike project.

Mary took over the role as advisor on this project a few years ago and both Larry and Harrison Morson (also from the Glenwood Lions Club) helped make that transition seamless.

While collecting bikes for reuse overseas is an important part of our program we cannot overlook the impact this project has on our environment and of course the students who participate year after year. Larry knows first hand how life changing a bike can be to a family in a poor, rural African community. And he also knows students here benefit greatly by being involved in the project.

Two years ago Jeff Dannis, Operations Division Chief, Bureau of Environmental Services, Department of Public Works, approached Bikes for the World about partnering up with the Alpha Ridge Waste Transfer Station in Howard County. This is an effort Director Keith Oberg really wanted to make work, but the distance from our warehouse in Arlington VA and the demands of the schedule were too much for the tiny staff at BfW to handle.

But the Glenwood Lions Club had eager volunteers, trucks, and even secured storage at the school for bikes...making this idea of collecting bikes at Alpha Ridge a real possibility. Without any introductions or support, the Glenwood Lions Club and the staff at Alpha Ridge entered into a pilot program to collect bikes at the transfer station on behalf of Bikes for the World.

Let's not underestimate the Leos either.  If you can't find Larry buried in a trailer full of bikes (see above), you'll likely find him smack dab in the middle of a group of budding bike mechanics at the school (see right).

And in 2015, the Glenwood bike collection netted 180 bikes, quite an impressive turn out. But after joining forces with Alpha Ridge, the 2016 collection topped 245 bikes.

This became an issue when the school's storage area overflowed. BfW had to make a special trip up last fall to help alleviate space, but Larry wanted to make sure the kids were still involved in the program. So we set up a special bike prepping session in the fall with the Leos club.

Representatives from BfW, Yvette Hess and Jim Mitchell met at the school to mentor the kids and load up bikes to take back to our warehouse in Virginia. Larry was a key force during that session helping to mentor the kids and teach them a little about bike mechanics and tool leverage, just as he does during the annual collection in May.

This year, 2017, the Glenwood collection surpassed our 1k bike marker with flying colors. Thanks to partnership with Alpha Ridge, this year's collection brought in 319 bikes, a school record.

Many Lion members participate in this event in May working side by side with the kids. But their commitment doesn't start and end there. They also supply a crew to work the waste transfer station several times a month. They accept bikes, monitor the quality, and transport them to the storage area at the school.

Without Larry's help at Alpha Ridge none of this would be possible.

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