One of the more unconventional volunteer sites offered through the Social Action program is Bikes for the World. This organization sends bikes to peoples in countries who would otherwise not have that mode of transportation. “These bicycles provide affordable transport to individuals for use in getting to work and school, or to in providing health and education services to low-income rural people.” (bikesfortheworld.org)
Stone Ridge volunteers have been working with Bikes for the World for two years now, and has most recently been nominated for a Montgomery Serves Award because of this work. Yvette Hess of Bikes for the World wrote in her nomination letter,
“I am nominating this group not only because the program as a whole is amazing, but the work this particular group does for us is also nothing short of amazing. We hope that they take this experience and carry it with them throughout their lives. It brings a face to importance of recycling,reusing, AND volunteering. Bikes for the World is the nation’s largest bike recycling organization and we can only accomplish that through the help of groups like that of Stone Ridge.
For our younger volunteers I’ve seen the Bikes for the World experience change kids. They tend to like the grease and the tools and forget that what they are doing is ‘work’. I’ve seen shy kids open up once they are taught how to use a pedal wrench. Girls jump right in once they realize it’s not ‘just for boys’. It’s a ‘doing’ activity that reaches kids who are sometimes used to being left out because they aren’t ‘athletic enough’. What I’ve seen this volunteer experience do here and overseas is give kids confidence where they once had little or none.
The importance of having this group of girls tackling this sometimes greasy job AND taking on some of the more strenuous activities opens up the door to some of our other female volunteers showing them they too, can do this. I often find young girls and even some soccer moms tentative about volunteering with us, thinking they can’t do it. Once they see they can, and find out how much fun it is, they often turn out to be some of our hardest workers. The Stone Ridge girls are making a difference globally and mention the good they are doing overseas changing lives with bikes. What they may not fully realize is the impact they are having right here at home instilling confidence in other other women who will continue to do this work with us even after their class graduates and moves on to college.” -Yvette Hess