Our newcomers friends from the Earth-to-Table food security program have begun to attend bike nights at New Hope Community Bikes in east Hamilton.
We have been able to provide bicycles and helmets to over 100 refugees to date. There are many more who anticipate the day when there name will be at the top of the list to come to the bike shop.
We wouldn’t be able to run this event without some great volunteers. Each night I aim on having enough volunteers so that each participant receiving a bike has someone to help them tune it up, fit their helmet, show them how to lock it, and how to load it on the city bus.
We are sharing the generosity of many Hamiltonians. Often bicycles are donated to New Hope Community Bikes that need a little TLC to be functional. In order to cover the costs, we quickly need to charge close to the new price of the bicycle from Canadian Tire or Walmart.
However when volunteers work with the recipient of the bicycle, we only need to charge for parts. When the Hamilton Helmet initiative provides us helmets to give away, most folks are able to take home functional transportation for $20-$25. I live close to where many refugees have settled in Hamilton, and I see families regularly on the bike trail and streets in my neighbourhood – eager to show me they are wearing their helmet on their new bike.
One family of four regularly bikes to the garden. They leave before dark because they have not yet saved money to buy lights for each bike. One day the police stopped them and they were afraid they would get a ticket because it was close to dark. It turns out the tickets were for free ice-cream because the police department loves to see families biking with everyone helmeted!
If you would like to donate a bicycle – bring it to New Hope Community Bikes. If you would like to donate your time and fix bikes with Refugees please email carrie.vandorp [at] arocha.ca. If you would like to donate funds, New Hope Community Bikes is a registered Canadian Charity. Check out their website, and you are always welcome to come check it out (1422 Main Street East)!
– Carrie Van Dorp