Wheels For Kids continues to do what we do – safely of course – during these difficult times. We want to help those most in need, especially now. Some mechanics continue refurbishing bikes. Our practice of working in our own garages facilitates social distancing – who knew we were so prepared for these times? Other functions such as parts purchasing, website updating, fundraising continue but in a limited way.
The Community Outreach team has maintained contact with our partner organizations and bike deliveries continued during March, although at a much slower rate later in the month. Our partner organizations have made changes in the way they provide services, the variety of services provided, office hours, etc. In many cases, their doors are closed and they are working remotely or working one on one with a family or client. Nonetheless, a total of 51 bikes were delivered in March – one of the highest totals for any March in our history.
During the last week in March WFK delivered 18 bikes. An employee from Christian Family Care was able to come by the pod and pick up 4 bikes for a family they are working with. We made a delivery of 7 bikes to Grace Stocksdale, the incredibly devoted and hardworking co-owner of More Than a Bed (photo included) and 7 more bikes went to Refugee Focus, which is operating with only one staff person in the office each day. All three of these organizations’ gratitude was loud and clear; WFK is an essential ingredient to accomplishing their missions!
We expect more of a slowdown during April and perhaps beyond. Bike donations have slowed to minimal levels and our partner organizations continue to operate at much reduced levels.
On behalf of Wheels For Kids Board of Directors we thank all WFK volunteers, bike donors, the charities we serve for their wonderful work and to our financial benefactors. Thank you all for your time, energy and support in helping to make a difference in the lives of others.
Recently Wheels for Kids (WFK) was awarded a grant from the Sun City Foundation in Oro Valley, AZ. This outstanding organization continues to generously support WFK. On behalf of the 30+ charities we support around greater Tucson, we thank the Foundation for their generous and ongoing support and encouragement. The grant will ensure that we can continue to provide refurbished bikes, locks and helmets to those around Tucson in need of a boost. There will be many happy kids and family members
Thanks to the support of the Sun City Foundation and others WFK refurbished and delivered 382 bikes in calendar year 2019. Also, in 2019 WFK delivered our 3000th bike – a rewarding milestone. This year – the first of the roaring 20s – is off to a great start. All of our volunteers continue to generously donate their time and energy. We added new volunteers again last year especially bicycle mechanics, always a critical need.
Once again, WFK continues to be grateful for the longstanding support and partnership with the Sun City Community Foundation.
Recently Wheels For Kids participated in the Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters Community Bike Round-up. The objective was to collect gently used bikes from all three Saddlebrooke developments and donate them to charity in Tucson. Wheels For Kids was chosen as one of the two organizations to receive the bikes, refurbish them and donate to charities throughout greater Tucson.
What a successful day. A total of 110 bikes were collected. WFK received 55 bikes. They were in very good condition. That is a plus when purchasing parts and in the time required to refurbish them.
The Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters Club did a great job organizing and executing the event. The club had spent time collecting some bikes in advance of the round-up. In addition a team of volunteers was on site during the round-up hours to receive the bikes, along with some helmets, clothing and equipment. Each donor was thanked for their generosity. When the round-up was complete the bikes were loaded for transport to WFK storage in Sun City.
On behalf of all those who will receive these bikes Wheels For Kids would like to thank Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters volunteers for their time, talents and generosity in making this event possible. It was a heartwarming beautiful day in Arizona.
Wheels for Kids has started strong in 2020. We delivered 49 bikes in January; the majority of which went to foster care and refugee organizations. So far in February we’ve delivered 19 bikes and there are about 25 bikes ready to find new homes this week!
We’ve brought on two new partners – Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Both of these organizations are grateful to be able to provide bikes to their clients; we just delivered our first to Emerge this past week! Since WFK was founded we have served well over 35 organizations. Normally 12 – 15 are active at any given time. Each year the distribution of bikes ebbs and flows to various organizations on our partner list; some receive no bikes one year and then reappear the following year. We continue to look for new partners to support in the community and welcome additional ideas.
One special delivery should be mentioned. In early February we delivered 4 bikes to Christian Family Care; two 12” bikes went to twins who were so excited, they wouldn’t take their helmets off when it was time for dinner! .I’ve attached a couple of pictures that show just how happy these 2 girls were with their new bikes.
WFK’s recently added a new partner organization – Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center (summary and pictures below). WFK delivered four bikes along with helmets and locks as our first donation. We are thrilled to work with this fine organization in the continuing effort to execute our mission” to put a smile on the face of kids who did not ever think they would experience the joy of riding a bike.”
In a child-sensitive environment, the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center provides an array of investigative and advocacy services to child victims of abuse and their non-offending family members. Expert medical evaluations, videotaped forensic interviews, crisis intervention and case coordination with law enforcement and Division of Child Safety are all provided in one place. Children who cannot return to their family home receive clothing, books, a blanket and teddy bear to take to temporary foster care. They are fed at the Center if they are hungry, and they are comforted and cared for by trained staff
The Children’s Advocacy Center also works with the community to prevent child victimization and stop the cycle of abuse. The Prevention Specialist teach hundreds of school age children annually how to keep themselves safe and report abuse if they believe it has happened. The Outreach Coordinator provides training to adult professionals throughout southern Arizona on the Mandated Reporting law, including staff from schools, day cares, hospitals and agencies working with children. This ensures that adults will immediately report any allegation of abuse, so the child victims can receive needed services and the offenders will be apprehended and prosecuted. The signs and indicators of the four types of child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional and neglect) are also reviewed and discussed.
On February 2, 2019 a group of Wheels For Kids mechanics gathered together for a “Pod Party.” These events are held in the Sun City Oro Valley golf maintenance building parking lot. Mechanics work in teams to either build new bikes or refurbish bikes. Socializing is of course a special part of the experience. During this event 21 new bikes were assembled, inspected, adjusted and the occasional part replaced as necessary. A final quality control check was completed and the bikes stored for delivery.
WFK inventory of smaller bikes had been substantially depleted so these bikes were a welcome addition. The following week Melanie Stout, our contact with Saddlebrooke Community Outreach, came by and picked up 5 kids bikes, 5 26” bikes and 1 larger bike. She was so grateful for the donation and assured us that the recipients at San Manuel Middle School will be thrilled. Later in the week the delivery team made a round of deliveries (Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, Catholic Community Services, Casa de los Ninos, International Rescue Committee and El Grupo). All those bikes will make wishes come true for many in our community.
On behalf of all Wheels For Kids partner charities, thank you to all who continue to share their time, skills and energy supporting the good work of Wheels For Kids.
Wheels For Kids is off to a good start in 2019 with 31 bikes delivered to date and two new partners – Grace Retreat Foster and Adoption Services and Tucson Borderlands Young Adult Volunteers program. Both organizations received 3 bikes earlier this month.
Grace Retreat currently works with 55 families which include 88 children. An interesting aspect of this organization is that all staff members have personal experience of foster care and/or adoption which gives them an invaluable perspective working with their clients.
The Tucson Borderlands YAV program supports young adults as they spend a year volunteering with non-profits in communities around the world. Unfortunately three bikes, which the volunteers use for transportation to and from their work sites had been stolen out of a locked shed and she wondered if WFK could help. Wheels for Kids was able to respond.
The Outreach team also delivered bikes to Casa de los Ninos, Impact of Southern Arizona, Youth on their Own, Catholic Community Services, El Grupo, International Rescue Committee and Gospel Rescue Mission. Rick Haupt accompanied the team on a delivery which was enjoyable for all; pictures attached. As always, our Partners were happy to see the truck pull up and unload the treasures!
Thank you to our bike and financial donors around Tucson and the Wheels For Kids volunteers for all you do.