Army veteran Randy poses outside of Sopo’s back door with a mountain bike he completely rebuilt at Sopo.
6 weeks. Each Saturday morning for the past 6 weeks, Sopo Bicycle Cooperative has welcomed a group of residents from the Gateway Center for the Homeless into the shop. As part of the Link, Sopo’s earn-a-bike program with Gateway, over 31 Gateway residents made it to the shop and 17 earned bikes through volunteering.
Navy veteran, Calvin, from the Gateway Center fourth floor shows off the bike he earned at Sopo.
Each participant from Gateway either earned a bike or fixed up their own bikes over the six weeks. While a bike might seem like a small thing, the increased mobility, better health, and sense of confidence that two wheels can provide should not be overestimated.
Nathaniel, a veteran of the US Army and Gateway resident, gets ready to ride off on his new Schwinn from Sopo.
In exchange for a free bike, each participant had to volunteer at the shop for four hours. In all, over 76 hours of volunteer service were provided to the shop by Gateway residents. For a small, local nonprofit like Sopo with no employees, those volunteer hours make a huge difference.
Sopo volunteer Chris helps Gateway resident Larry fix a flat.
In addition to volunteering at the shop to earn a free bike, Gateway residents also attend classes on bike repair at Sopo. This past session had great classes on topics such as, the ABCs of Bike Maintenance, Fix-a-Flat, and Brake Adjustment. Besides getting a free bike, but keeping it in good working order is just as important.
Sopo boardmember, Kartapreet Singh, gives a class on bike safety at Sopo for the Link.
A great group, very eager to hit the streets and get their lives back on track. We also had many veterans (over half of the participants). Certainly an honor to give back to those who have served our country.
Mark, a resident of Gateway’s veterans floor, shows off his muscles and his new Royce Union.
What really makes the Link special are those participants from previous sessions who come back and work on their bikes. Witnessing the transformation from living on the brink of disaster to rebuilding a functioning life is very gratifying. Not saying that a bike can do it all, but I am sure it plays a part.
Troy, a veteran of the US Navy and previously a employee during the Link employment program at Sopo, working on his disc brake.