Bikes for the World

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Featured Volunteer: Larry Silverman

Who is Larry Silverman? "I've been around the BfW warehouse for years and I've never seen this guy."

Perhaps. Larry Silverman IS BfWNY. New York City!?! Not quite, but you get the idea. So you may not have seen him around Arlington or Rockville, but this guy is swimming in donated bikes.

And truth be told, you may have seen him once down in Arlington when he came during an inauguration service event several terms ago.... Since that visit our work sort of stuck with him.

Then back in the winter of 2014 he contacted us and said, how can I get more involved. BTW, I'm in Long Island. So we thought we'd offer him a challenge to be an area coordinator. And he said, I'll see your challenge and raise you a warehouse. That's right, Larry tackled the biggest hurdle right off the bat, he found space to hold bikes, hundreds of them.

Next we connected him to a scout hoping to work with us on an Eagle Project and the bikes started pouring in. There were several more collections, a New York based youth group, Recycle-A-Bicycle, Citi Bike New York...we seemed to be getting bikes from every direction and boxes and boxes of parts.

Director Keith Oberg left the office one day and went for a long drive to think about what to do with all those bikes in New York. Or maybe he had already scheduled a loading from that location and drove up there to mentor Larry in how to load a container. Yeah, maybe that was it.

Regardless, here this new volunteer area coordinator found himself swamped with bikes and loading his first container to be donated to Village Bicycle Project Sierra Leone. And we found ourselves with a first time loading from New York, how exciting!

This past spring after almost a year hiatus, we got the call again. Kenny Marx was up to good again; he wanted to collect bikes at PortFest as he had in previous years. We called Larry, who said sure, I'll drive a truck, lend a hand, and add these bikes to the warehouse!

Little did he know Kenny would more than double the number of bikes he typically gets at this collection. And it would be cold. And rainy. All day. What sounded like a simple pick up the truck, grab the bikes, and deliver them to the warehouse kind of day turned into an epic adventure.

Larry picked up the rental truck and 7am that morning, made several stops throughout the day grabbing bikes around Long Island, then had to lend a hand at PortFest where they were swamped (pun definitely intended) with bikes. Then there was the long drive back to the warehouse, unloading for two hours, return the truck...he collapsed at home after 1:30 the next morning!

Larry reports that the rain started at 4am and never let up the entire day. By the end of the event he was soaked and shivering. If this isn't the mark of a dedicated volunteer then we don't know what is! 

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