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Support Your Local Teenager: Us

There are more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. Starting a nonprofit is relatively easy: see a need in your community, round up some dedicated volunteers, file the paperwork.

When Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop started in 2002, we were the only nonprofit bike shop in Snohomish County, committed to “connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels.”

We still serve that unique need. As a teenaged organization, we have matured in so many ways, but still need to grow up in others. One way we need to grow is in community support.

Donations from individuals like you are essential for the future of Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop.  Whether you give $25 or $250, your contribution demonstrates that the community supports our shop and our mission.

Of course, our bike shop is full of bikes and parts donated by community supporters – probably too full, but loving bikes is an occupational hazard for us. Luckily, bike sales have tripled in recent years – some customers come in to find a special bike and to support our mission, while other customers are the mission:

  • The 125 low income kids who will take a bike home for Christmas this month
  • Sally, who worked her way out of homelessness by using her bike to get to work at odd hours when buses don’t run;
  • Matt, the recovering addict who needed to fix his flat tire so he could ride to treatment
  • Jesse, who got a “new-to-him” road bike from Sharing Wheels and has lost 60 pounds riding everywhere with his caregiver

We know many customers by name because as a community bike shop, we don’t just sell bikes. We see people again and again. You drop by to borrow our tools, get a used part, or when to volunteer and pay forward the help we have given you.

Many of our services are free, but our rent, insurance, taxes, and staff are not. As we’ve grown, so has the cost and complexity of doing business.

Many nonprofits don’t make it to age 16. We are determined to keep serving the greater Everett area into adulthood. In 2019 we’ll be adopting a business plan and looking to expand our bike programs and partnerships. Your donation will help us grow up.

Changes: Reorganizing the Shop

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

At Sharing Wheels, we love bikes. That goes without saying, right? To us, even some old Schwinn clunker that weighs 30 pounds, with a few weeds still growing through its wheels, still deserves a good home.

So it’s an occupational hazard for us to accumulate more bikes, and parts of bikes, than we can manage. We’ve been in our current shop location for almost 15 years. That’s a lot of time to collect an abundance of bike-related goodies from generous donors. We have corners crowded with hopeful tools and tidbits, 16 bike pumps (some work), old-school bike accessories, and so many beautiful (in our eyes) bikes (many waiting for repair).

For the past year, the Sharing Wheels Board of Directors has been thoughtfully reviewing our operations and our mission – what it is we aim to do in the world as a nonprofit. We’ve come to realize that Sharing Wheels is as much about people as it is about bikes.

But there’s not much room for people in our current shop.

The board has also reaffirmed that we are in the business of moving bikes – repairing them, selling them, passing them on. Storing bikes – until we have time to fix them, waiting for the perfect customer, while we wait to find that special part – is not part of our mission.

Keeping People and Bikes Moving: Empowerment, Affordability, Sustainability, and Education

Sharing Wheels Mission

Right now, it’s hard to move through our shop. It can be even harder to find room to work on a bike – yours or ours. As we get back into teaching classes, where can students sit, or stand?

In August we took the first steps to clean out some of our excess bikes and parts. This month, we’ll be taking even bigger steps to ensure that our shop serves all parts of our mission. We’ll be rearranging, taking apart, hanging up, putting on display, labelling. This reorganization is so important that we’ll be closing the shop for the week of Sept. 23-29.

Our preliminary goals include:

  • Room for more work stands – so volunteers and customers can work on bikes
  • Better bike display – to show off what’s for sale
  • Easier to find and access parts
  • More basic tools, more organized

You might remember a similar shop reorganization effort that took place about two years ago. It made a big difference, for awhile. Then that bike love thing kicked in. of course.

Attention to shop organization needs to be ongoing. It’s one reason we are hiring an executive director.  We intend to set aside space and set up processes to keep both bikes and people moving – in our shop, and in the community.

If you have thoughts about how we could better manage space for people and bikes in our current shop, please contact me: bikenbus@gmail.com

This post is Part 3 of 3 blogs about changes at Sharing Wheels. Part 1 is about hiring our first executive director. Part 2 is about our mission.

Changes: New Mission, Same Goals

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

Every nonprofit should have a purpose, a problem we are trying to solve. At Sharing Wheels, our tagline for years has been “Connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels.” People donate bike they don’t use to us, we fix them and pass them on.

But we’ve realized recently that getting a bike is really not the biggest problem for our friends and customers. You can find bikes at thrift stores, garage sales, on Craigslist, and in front of many a homeless camp.

The problem is that bikes break. And people don’t know how to fix them.  So people can’t count on their wheels to get around, and bikes get dusty and rusty.

We knew that was something we wanted to help with back in 2002, when we wrote our Articles of Incorporation as a nonprofit. The document describes our purpose as:

  • To provide information and education about bicycles and their maintenance and use
  • To encourage adults and youth to maintain and use bicycles, and
  • To encourage the use of bicycles in Snohomish County as a means of building community and alternative transportation.

If you’ve visited our shop lately, you’ve seen that we have kept true to our purpose all these years. There’s always someone fixing a flat with our tools, getting a bolt for their rack, learning how to adjust their gears.

Each fall and winter dozens of volunteers help us refurbish kids bikes. And while we haven’t successfully hosted any adult repair classes this year, we have a few classes on the schedule this fall and more coming.

A mission statement can be used to help the public understand what an organization does. But it’s also used by the board to judge what we should do. We need to focus our limited resources, staff and volunteers on the things that matter and make the most difference.

That’s why the Sharing Wheels board has spent many hours over the past year discussing and debating our mission. We thought about our current programs, how our shop is used today and how we want it to be used, about the small things we do, and the big picture.

We wanted something simple, that we could remember and recite when we are promoting our work. What our mission boils down to is:

Keeping People and Bikes Moving

To explain how we do that, it’s EASE:

Empowerment: giving people access to tools, shop, and advice

Affordability: A bike for every budget

Sustainability: Reusing and recycling donated bikes

Education: Repair classes for customers, volunteers and community

Our new mission statement is inspiring us to make changes (see Parts 1 and 3), but also to recommit to what we do best: helping people ride bikes.

You can contribute to our mission: By donating a bike, giving money, volunteering at a work party, taking a class, or coming in to see what cool bikes we have fixed up this week.

Changes: Hiring Our First Executive Director

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

I was around when Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop was established in 2002, watching Ron and Kristi offer free bike repairs at the Everett Gospel Mission once a month. I saw the first board president’s garage fill with bikes and parts, and watched our first earn-a-bike kid joyfully ride his new wheels (that he’d fixed himself) down the alley.

We’ve moved to our own shop and a different alley since then, and had many other changes as a nonprofit. But we have remained committed to serving a diverse clientele of people who use and love bicycles.

Just three years ago, we hired our first paid staff. That has helped to triple our revenue. But growth has also increased the complexity and responsibilities of our nonprofit.

After a year-long organizational review, the Sharing Wheels Board of Directors has decided we need more professional leadership than our volunteer board can provide.

It’s time to hire our first ever executive director. The board seeks to hire someone who can implement our new strategic plan, by developing the people (staff and volunteers), place (bike shop), programs (such as classes and work-trade) and procedures that will make us a more effective, mission-driven organization.

Here’s the official executive director job post.

The position is part-time because that’s what we can afford. But even so, we believe we can attract someone who wants to make a difference, either early in their career, or as they wind down professional work. The director will be assisted by our shop staff , along with volunteers and a very dedicated board.

Hiring our first executive director is a leap of faith – we can’t fully fund the position with current revenue. But we believe the position is sustainable in the long-term, once we get programs and partnerships established. Meanwhile, we are counting on grants and donations from individual supporters – like the people reading this blog post (you!)

We also need your help spreading the word about this unique job opportunity. The perfect candidate is not necessarily a bike nut or mechanic.  They just need to care about sustainable transportation, serving diverse people in need, and partnering with a nonprofit board.

This post is Part 1 of 3 about changes at Sharing Wheels. Part 2 is about our mission. Part 3 is about our shop space.

Kids Bike Swap June 9th!

We’ve been preparing for months for this big weekend and the weather looks like it’ll be a wonderfully bike friendly day! Thank you to the Herald’s Stephanie Davey for the great write up! There’s still time to volunteer, wrench on some kids bikes now through Saturday or sign up for a shift helping out the day of! We still need some non mechanic volunteers to fill in with check in, check out , helmet fitting & clean up. Sign up here

Kids Bike Swap

Kids Bike Swap Sunday June 9, 2019

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

2531 BROADWAY AVE., EVERETT

in the back parking lot

A parent or guardian must come with each child to the Swap.

Russ N. checks out a bike at Kids Bike Swap 2012

Kids can trade in the bike they have outgrown and pick out a bike that fits them. Kids donate their old bike, and receive credit for the value based on its size and condition. A parent or guardian must be present at the Swap.

The credit can be used towards purchasing a bigger bicycle, which can costs an extra. Typically, when a bike is swapped, the family is able to take home their newly refurbished ride for $20 or less. Cash or checks  preferred. We also accept credit cards.

A free helmet comes with every bike – and we’ll make sure it fits!

About Swap Bikes

Bicycles with wheel sizes from 12-inches to 24-inches are ready for trading.

If your child needs a larger bicycle, we may be able to accommodate them.

All bikes are safety checked and refurbished by Sharing Wheels volunteers before they enter the Swap.

Swap Hours

No bikes will be swapped before 10 a.m. If you arrive early, please stay out of our “bicycle  coral.” If you arrive really early, we might even put you to work helping set up.

Before 12 noon, you must bring a bicycle to swap for credit to enter the Swap. After 12 noon, bicycles can be purchased for the value listed, without the need to trade.

The Swap closes at 2 p.m

Bike selection can’t be beat

Our white winter has meant plenty of quiet time at the shop this winter to prepare bikes for spring. We have lots of bikes – what we need now are customers. So if you or a friend need a bike, come on by.

Unlike retail shops that only carry certain lines of bikes, we have a bit of every brand: Specialized, Bianchi, Trek, Bridgestone, Giant, Softride, Kona, Townie, and much more.

It’s important to find the right bike – one that fits you and the way you plan to ride (fast, in town, on trails, carrying stuff, etc). Our shop staff and volunteers will take the time to find the right bike for you. We’ll encourage you to take a test ride and see how the bike feels, shifts and stops. Then come back and take a different bike out for a ride.

Years ago, I thought I wanted a hybrid city bike. But when I went for a test ride, I found out no, I wanted to go fast. I next tested a road bike Trek built specifically for women. It felt right from the start.

You won’t have a better variety of bikes to compare than at Sharing Wheels. We don’t have the latest models (very often), but the colors, the quality, and the fun-factor can’t be beat.

When you buy a bike from Sharing Wheels, the money pays for the refurbishing we might have put in (such as parts to ensure you’ll have a safe and functioning bike) as well as providing revenue that supports the shop overall.

You’ll get a bike that’s right for you, and we’ll put one more unused bike back into circulation.

  • Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

Seeking Board Members

Updated March 2019

Do you like bikes and want to give back to your community? Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop is seeking volunteers for our nonprofit board of directors.

We have at least two and up to four openings. Submit a board_application (PDF) anytime – mail or bring to shop.

Board members support our mission of “connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels” with hands-on governance and enthusiasm. You don’t need to get greasy – we are looking for people with experience and expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • Nonprofit or business management
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Fundraising and grants
  • Retail or business services
  • Everett community connections

Board members commit to monthly Board and committee meetings. We are updating vision and goals for 2019, keeping our growing shop aligned with our longterm mission of “connecting unused bikes to people who needs wheels.”

We seek Board members who bring a diversity of age, race, cultural background, economic background, and experience. Board members are usually elected to one-year terms each January, but can also be appointed by the board at any time.

If you are interested, or if you know of someone who you think would be a great Board member, please contact: board president Kristin Kinnamon at bikenbus @gmail.com or 425-923-7868.

Advance your bike skills, help Sharing Wheels

Would you like to practice and improve your bike mechanic skills? Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop is starting a series of Sunday work parties for volunteers to learn bike maintenance while helping to refurbish donated bicycles. The first work party and training is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. Volunteers will get oriented and give input on best times for future class sessions to complement the work parties. Pizza will be provided.

Attendees should have basic bike knowledge – such as fixing flats and lubing chains, or past experience helping with our kids bike programs. More experienced home and shop bike mechanics are also encouraged to attend – to learn more or help teach others.

Each session will cover a new bike maintenance skill which will be practiced while fixing up Sharing Wheels bicycles.

Ultimately, volunteers who attend all sessions will receive training equivalent to an advanced mechanics class – a $100 value. Space is limited, so volunteers are asked to sign up in advance on the Sharing Wheels website.

Additional adult bike work parties are scheduled for Sundays, Feb. 24 through March 24, except no work party March 10. Volunteers who put in at least 10 hours will be invited to a special Advanced Mechanics course in April.

Space is limited, so advance signup is required.

Register Now

Classes wrench in the New Year!

We are hosting mechanics classes in the new year! Basic Maintenance Classes are $35 and will be held on Saturday January 19th, from 4:30 – 7:30 pm and Thursday February 7th, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. 
The Advanced Mechanics Class is 4 consecutive Saturdays from January 26th through February 16th from 4:30 – 7:30 pm, with a cost of $100. 
We have a limit of 6 spots per class so sign up early and tell your friends! To reserve your spot or for more information contact the shop at 425-252-6952 or visit http://sharingwheels.org/classes/

2018 Programs Summary

Volunteer Program

We have some dedicated volunteers who come in every week, and regulars who come to work parties and special events.  We wouldn’t exist without your help. To keep in touch, we have 509 emails on our contact list (up 10% from 2017).

Bike & Parts Sales

Sales of refurbished bikes and used parts are the main source of income for Sharing Wheels. Sharing Wheels also has bike accessories and some new parts for sale. Most donated bikes are fixed as needed, but some are sold “as-is.” High-end bikes may be sold on eBay or Craigslist. 250+ bikes sold in shop; 30 online sales transactions

Community Bike Shop

The tools and bike stands at Sharing Wheels are available for anyone to use for free during shop hours. People come in to fix their own bikes, often getting a little guidance from Sharing Wheels staff or volunteers. Low-income people, DIY-tinkerers, and basic bike geeks benefit from this service. 4-20 people use our shop each week, depending on weather and time of year

Kids Bike Swap

Eleven volunteer work parties kicked off in March, and 14 people helped the day of the event. Hundreds of dollars of new parts went into preparing 75 bikes in advance. Another 100 bikes were traded in, some swapped for immediately, the rest stored for Christmas House. Event was promoted with a flyer and coupon at 4 local schools that have large low-income populations. 100+ bikes home with kids; 50 helmets fitted for new owners

Christmas House Bikes

Each fall, Sharing Wheels contributes refurbished children’s bicycles to another non-profit, Christmas House, which serves thousands of low-income families in greater Everett. 50 volunteers attended work parties starting in September, adding new parts as needed thanks to a $1,000 grant from BIKES Club of Snohomish County. Repeat volunteers earned shop credit, Starbucks card or t-shirt. A. The Gyro Shack provided food for two work parties. 125 bikes donated in 2018

Dark Nights, Bright Lights

In 2017, Sharing Wheels began offering low income clients who did not have legally required bike lighting basic front and rear lights. Donations support the cost of this program. 45 lights installed; 67% for extremely low income people; 70% have been stopped by police; 100% use their bicycle for daily transportation

Valet Bike Parking

Sharing Wheels has a tent, bike corral and racks that can be setup at events to provide secure bike parking and outreach. For the second year, a $500 City of Everett grant paid for parking at Sorticulture (71 bikes), BIKES Club covered a month of parking at the Everett Farmers Market (39 bikes; $300). We also provided parking at BIKES event the McClinchy Mile (53) and loaned our setup to the Delta Neighborhood for their National Night Out event in August. 164 bikes parked over 8 event days.

Mechanics Classes

Basic and Advance Classes were offered in the first half of the year. We did not have sufficient signups for later classes (offered in fall), however there remains strong interest.
14 paid students in 2018

Work for Wheels

Work for Wheels allows people to volunteer time at the shop in exchange for credit towards a refurbished bike or major purchase (up to $250). Time is valued at $10 per hour. The program is open to all, but we ask for optional employment and income information. New (revived from the past) program with outcomes still pending.

WSU Repair Cafes

Our volunteers provided bike repair and other services at quarterly WSU Extension Repair Cafe events. Participants bring in broken stuff and hope to have it fixed for free.