Yvette Powell Hess
Community Service Leaders
April is a busy time for Bikes for the World as the temperatures start to warm (we hope) and service projects start to lean toward recycling and environmental issues in celebration of Earth Month. Bike donations spike starting now and lasting through summer. This means we get very busy in our warehouse loading containers and prepping bikes for our partners around the world.
We kicked off this busy spring with the McLean School of Potomac who joined us during their school-wide Day of Service this week. This is the second year The McLean School has partnered up with Charity Connect to bring this rewarding opportunity to students.
"When planning McLean's Day of Service my main goal was for the students to be able to understand how their service impacted others and to leave the day with knowledge, inspiration, and a desire to serve again." by Cristin Caine, founder and CEO of Charity Connect
Building a relationship within our community since moving to our new location in Rockville has been a big priority for BfW. Providing rewarding service projects for schools and youth groups in our surrounding area has increased our visibility and improved our ability to serve our partners around the world. We are committed to providing service projects that help promote social and environmental awareness, educate our volunteers about issues around the world, and extend a hand to help our volunteers solve some of those challenges our beneficiaries face.
Charity Connect has been a great partner since we have moved to our new location. Cristin has been great to work with and keeps tabs on our opportunities, connecting members of the community with our projects based on interest and availability.
Over the winter we had many families coming through the warehouse to help us prep bikes for upcoming shipments. It was a great activity for all members of the family to join in together and serve as a family.
Because Charity Connect was behind much of the recruitment, many of the families dropping in to do an hour or two of service on the weekend often knew each other. The warehouse started to feel like a cool community hang out where good work = big fun. Some came before a basketball game or just after and all picked up wrenches, got a little grease on their jerseys and left with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
One of the missions of Charity Connect is to promote service in the community, but also ultimately, to convert those student service hours into life-long, sustainable volunteers. In addition to sending us individual volunteers, Cristin has also coordinated group activities with The McLean School and Adat Shalom's Social Action Youth Group.
The McLean School joined us this week with two group sessions throughout the school day. The students learned about Bikes for the World, our mission, and about some of the partners we work with around the world. In this case, they learned a great deal about MiBici in Costa Rica and how their volunteer service would help change lives through the micro-finance project in the southern region of Brunca, where this particular container would be heading.
Last month, we worked with Adat Shalom, whose youth group helped us prep bikes for a shipment heading to Village Bicycle Project in Sierra Leone.
One of the things we like to see at BfW is a service project that embraces the whole package. By that we mean, volunteers learn more about what we do and who they will be helping alongside the hands on component of collecting bikes, prepping them for the container, and seeing an actual container loading.
We have been encouraging more field trip visits to our warehouse and groups have been eager to respond. This effort brings a better understanding of our operation and helps us prepare bikes which will be loaded the following week. It's been an enriching experience for our volunteers who often only interact with us for one day at their location for the bike collection. Now we are starting to see the same faces drop in the warehouse to lend a hand during our weekly volunteer sessions.
Last month Girl Scout Troop 3234 from Gaithersburg organized a visit during spring break. The girls learned about our mission and prepped bikes that will be included in this week's shipment to Costa Rica as well as next week's to Ghana.Their work in the warehouse also prepares them for their upcoming collection in May when they will be collecting bikes for El Salvador as part of their Bronze Award.
Next week we will be welcoming Girl Scout Troop 4093 who found out about us through Charity Connect.