from left to right: Jack Melville, Libby Melville, Dick Swain, Arlene Douglas, Rose Mary Meyer, Olivia Haupt, Tom Meyer, Rick Haupt
Recently Wheels For Kids created a Distinguished Service Award to honor WFK team members who have faithfully, tirelessly, unselfishly and over many years dedicated themselves to the Wheels For Kids Mission: “Receive gently used bikes from donors throughout Tucson, refurbish them and then donate the bikes to charities who distribute them to deserving kids and families.”
On April 10 the Wheels For Kids Distinguished Service Award was presented to three individuals who have been an integral part of building this organization into what it is today. In February we donated our 2000th bike. That milestone is due in no small measure to the contributions of these exceptional people. Their generous hearts have brought joy to many.
Thanks from the 40+ Wheels For Kids team and a grateful acknowledgement from over 2,000 children and families goes to:
- Rick Haupt – President with visionary leadership for 5 years, extensive structural and business process improvement work and bicycle mechanic since Wheels For Kids early days
- Jack Melville – bicycle mechanic since Wheels For Kids early days and Parts Purchasing Leader
- Tom Meyer – liaison with Vistoso Cyclists, Board Member, Governance leadership and business process improvement work
Their leadership and dedication to serving others serves as an inspiration to us all.
In March, Wheels For Kids delivered about 50 bikes to our partner organizations in Tucson. That put us over 2,100 bikes delivered.
For the March donations we would like to highlight Arizona’s Children Association (Kinship Program) and Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed Program – both new Wheels for Kids community partners. A brief introduction of their programs is included below.
Arizona’s Children Association, Kinship Program (KARE) (https://www.arizonaschildren.org/kinship/).
This program supports caretakers who provide care for their relatives’ children and/or working toward adoption of these children. In Arizona, there are more than 160,000 children living in homes headed by grandparents or other relatives. Our programs help support these very special families and their potential to provide a positive alternative to traditional foster care. Classes, support groups and other activities are held at our Kinship Adoption Resource & Education (KARE) Center in Tucson and other locations around the state. Research indicates that children in kinship care experience greater stability than those in traditional foster care. Kinship caregivers provide love and support in a familiar setting, allowing children to remain connected with their families and communities. They are able to live with people they know and trust, thereby reinforcing their sense of cultural identity and well-being.
Literacy Connects/Reading Seed (est. 1995) recruits and trains volunteer reading coaches to work one-on-one with students in kindergarten through third grade who are reading below grade level. We distribute free books to children and offer a leveled lending library for coaches, teachers and other literacy providers with books that match K-12 students’ interests and reading ability.
Reading Seed supports elementary schools and students by:
- Recruiting and training volunteer reading coaches to work with students in K–5th grade who are reading below grade level.
- Emphasizing reading as a positive experience in a non-judgmental environment.
- Increasing confidence, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension in students.
- Delivering high interest, low reading level literacy resources from our Lending Library to schools for Reading Coaches and teachers.
- Providing free books for students to encourage independent reading.
Wheels for kids is very pleased to be working with these organizations and expects this to be the beginning of a lasting partnership.
Wheels For Kids (WFK) was founded by Dick Swain in 2007 with a vision: to put a smile on the face of kids who didn’t think they would ever get to experience the joy of riding their own bike. WFK is an all volunteer, non-profit organization that collects used bikes, completely overhauls them, ensures they work well, look good and are safe to operate – and then, through partner charitable organizations, gives them to deserving kids, teens and adults in greater Tucson. From a modest beginning of 10 kindred spirits it has grown to over 40 volunteers today.
Today Wheels For Kids delivered its 2,000th bike. The recipient was a happy youngster named Zack at Gospel Rescue Mission Women & Children’s Center in Tucson. He lives there with his Mom. The two of them were homeless but now live in temporary housing while getting things back together. Zack, while a child of few words, clearly was happy with his new bike and helmet! Included are a couple pictures of Zack and his bike. You should have seen him walking it back to their apartment; no one was going to get in between him and his new Ninja Turtle bike!
On this special occasion Wheels For Kids would like to say “Thank You” to our supporters around greater Tucson. For 10 years you have donated bicycles, provided financial contributions and spread the word about our work to your friends, colleagues and neighbors. Your kindness and generous support has brought joy and changed the lives of more than 2,000 people, including Zack today. He had a smile on his face as bright as the Arizona sun!
An update from Lisa Terfehr, our Community Outreach Director:
This was a busy week for the Wheels for Kids delivery team! Dick Schafer and I delivered 5 bikes/helmets to the Tucson Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday; Wednesday, Tom and I delivered 7 bikes/helmets to Kristi’s Kids’ Season of Hope (putting us over the 1,800 mark for total bike deliveries!) and on Thursday, 18 bikes were delivered to Desert Survivors, Perimeter Bicycling and Interfaith Community Services. Kristi was happy to welcome us back again and I was interviewed by her on the 4:00 p.m. news. Our contacts at each organization expressed their gratitude and ensured us that the bikes would bring hours of happiness to their lucky recipients! Thank you for your continued support and sharing your ‘gifts’ (mechanical, time, energy) to Wheels for Kids. UPDATE: As of 1/23/17, WFK has delivered over 1,900 bikes to those in need.