The heart of what we do, isn't just giving away bikes. Yes, we do that and want kids to ride bikes, to experience the freedom and responsibility that a bike gives, and to have access to nearby places. But the "why" behind what we do is bigger than that. We give bikes to kids (and some adults) because we care and want to have healthy relationships with our neighbors and bikes give us a way to do that. Here are two examples:
This summer, we've had about 5 middle schoolers who have been working with us twice a week. They fix bikes and help out around the shop. We've been able to meet and talk to some of their parents, siblings and other family members and get to know some of them too. In addition to bikes and learning how to use tools properly, we get to talk about a variety of things like respect for others and their property, the weather, and how this started and continues to be an outreach ministry. We often talk about our churches, activities, bible studies, etc. and play modern Christian music, sometimes singing along! Anyone who has volunteered with kids or in their community has seen how relationships can happen organically by working together on a task such as fixing a bike. The students start school this week and want to continue coming.
We also have a great partnership with BCRC. They allow us to use their facility in New Brighton and we have several groups coming weekly for a couple of hours. One group does bike teardowns and other groups do parts recycling, sorting, cleaning, finding leaks in inner tubes, and helping move bikes around. In return, the folks have an opportunity to do usually light but sometimes challenging mechanical work in a teamwork setting. We have developed similar relationships with people from these teams and always have fun conversations.
Our band of weekday volunteers always have a great time working with the kids or BCRC teams. We could host more of these groups if we had more daytime volunteers. With fall approaching, we will again have to move back indoors and need continued help in the evening as well.
This summer marked the first time I’ve worked with VBS. The main message was one that we heard Mr. Rogers use a million times, but it turns out he got it from Jesus. After God, this greatest command is to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. What better way can we love our neighbors than building community with them over a bike?
Hopefully, these little stories of the heart behind what we are doing, are encouraging to you. We aren't just a bike giveaway program. We get to be a part of building relationships and caring for our neighbors. We get to be a positive presence in our community. We are truly blessed to have these opportunities. But you don’t have to take my word for it-- Come out and see for yourself!
-Steve Halavanja, Communicycle Volunteer and Bike Repair Expert