Hope this beautiful weather is to your liking; no complaints from my corner of the world! I want to bring you up to date on deliveries since the beginning of the year and also introduce you to our newest partner, Owl and Panther.
Owl and Panther (https://www.owlandpanther.org/) is an organization working with refugees settled in Tucson who are no longer eligible to receive services from their resettlement organization. WFK partners with the three resettlement programs – Catholic Community Services, International Rescue Committee and Refugee Focus. After a period of time, refugees rotate out of these programs, yet may still be in need of services (resource referrals, housing assistance, transportation needs, etc.). Owl and Panther pick up where these organizations leave off.
Their focus is not only working with refugees but specifically with refugees who have been impacted by trauma, torture and traumatic dislocation. Their needs and the resources made available to them vary depending on their individual circumstances and experiences. Owl and Panther offers classes, outings, educational opportunities, etc. to strengthen these families and help them to make Tucson their new home. Their mission statements reads:
To provide meaningful and healing expressive arts experiences in the community and the natural world for refugee families resettled in Tucson who have been impacted by trauma, torture and traumatic dislocation. To foster acceptance of refugees in the community through education. And to honor the efforts of our volunteers who make this work possible.
In January, Larry Lee and I delivered 10 bikes to them, which were received with broad smiles and grateful hearts. The bikes were placed in volunteer’s trucks for immediate delivery to several families. Another partner that helps to close the circle of WFK’s work!
Also in January, Dave and Cathy Pauley delivered 10 bikes to Catholic Community Services for their refugee program and Roger and Sue Paluska delivered 10 more bikes to Christian Family Care, one of our foster care partners. Both of these organizations are always happy to see the Wheel for Kids crew pull up!
Tom and Rose Mary Meyer made two deliveries earlier this month; 5 bikes to Refugee Focus and 6 bikes to More Than a Bed. These partners more often than not, welcome us with a hug; these times a fist pump and smiling eyes indicate their gratitude.
Tomorrow Elaine Mariolle from Pima County will be picking up 10 bikes for the county’s work on two projects with Tucson Indian Center and Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui youth programs. Elaine is thrilled to be able to provide these kids with bikes; both to promote healthy life styles and to enjoy the fun of riding a bike!
Wheels for Kids is making a profound difference in the lives of many in our extended community. Our reach is deep and wide. If you know of an organization that might benefit from receiving bikes, please give contact me.
All of the above is due to your dedication and support. Each of you deserves a pat on the back! I can’t thank the mechanics enough; your tinkering and time is well spent as measured by smiles and grateful hearts. Thank you so very much.
The ‘elves’ have been very busy, which made for a sleigh-full of bikes and three deliveries today (pictures attached). We dropped off 8 bikes to both the Boys and Girls Club and Aviva Social Services. Each partner organization is having their holiday party later this week, where kids will be able to select a gift and as we all know, bikes are often at the top of the list!
We then swung by Refugee Focus and delivered 5 cruiser bikes, some with racks and baskets to accommodate trips to the store, etc. As always, Mukadesa, our contact, thanked us profusely and added, “God Bless you Lisa”. Those blessings I pass onto all of you who have tinkered on bikes, supported us from the sidelines, picked up, delivered, etc. Your efforts have brought smiles and laughter to kids and adults alike this holiday season (and throughout the year).
Thank you, thank you for dedication and support of Wheels for Kids.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some good news.
Last week, we delivered bikes to three foster care agencies who are busy planning their holiday gift distributions. Just like Santa’s sleigh, we loaded the Wheels for Kids trailer (picture attached) and off we flew to Aviva Services, GAP Ministries and Grace Retreat Adoption and Foster Care.
Each of our contacts were filled with gratitude and though we couldn’t see their smiles (masks on!), we saw the twinkling in their eyes.
I want to thank all of our volunteers – especially those magical mechanics, who turn wrenches and shine up dirty chains, for their time and dedication to helping Wheels for Kids bring squeals of joy and happiness, not only during the holidays, but all year long.
Wishing you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with blessings and thank you for being a blessing to those less fortunate in our community.
2020 El Tour de Food Bank ride
On Saturday October 24, 2020 Vistoso Cyclists participated in the El Tour de Food Bank ride through Sun City Vistoso to raise money for the Interfaith Community Services (ICS) food bank.
Some Wheels For Kids volunteers participated in the event. ICS is one of the WFK partner organizations.
Tom McKinney, ICS CEO, visited to thank this group for 10 years of loyal support and to say the need now is greater than ever.
This year’s ride was another success – over $7,000 was raised.
Thank you to all the generous Vistoso Cyclists and Sun City Donors.
Included are a few pictures of the riders. They added much color to the Sororan Desert! One group – the WOWs (Women On Wheels) especially rose to the occasion.
April 8, 2020 Update
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.
Grant from the Sun City Foundation!
March 4, 2020
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.
AZwfk – Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters Bike Round-up
February 22, 2020
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.
A Strong Start for 2020
February 15, 2020
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.
Jan. 5, 2020 Bike Pick-up
Generous donors in Tucson gave WFK 13 very good, used bikes and 104 new tires of various sizes. We are blessed.
Had to get a little creative during the loading. “Jed and Jethro” handled the pick-up duties on this one.!!
Also, thanks to all the wonderful donors who contributed bikes and components during 2019. Those donations are already changing lives for kids and families in Tucson.
2019 Holidays Deliveries
December 17, 2019
Yesterday a few WFK volunteers delivered 10 bikes to Season 4 Hope which is KVOA NBC’s local affiliate.
We have participated for several years and it is always a wonderful way to give back to the community.
Donated toys are given to Toys for Tots; clothing to Goodwill and food to the Tucson Community Food Bank.
This delivery brings our bike donation number to over 3,300.