kids bikes News Volunteers

Christmas House Wrap-Up

By Larry Williamson, Volunteer
Once again, Sharing Wheels Bike Shop has completed its annual effort to prepare a batch of kids’ bikes – just over 100 this year – to donate to Christmas House in Everett.

Christmas House, in its 42nd year, has a mission to provide holiday gifts to low-income youth. Starting small, Christmas House now annually provides more than 38,000 gifts to 6,000+ kids in 2,000+ families! Christmas House works year-round to make its mission happen.

Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop in Everett is now wrapping up its 20th year. We have partnered with Christmas House essentially from the get-go – since 2003.

Support this Program

Over the past five years, Sharing Wheels volunteers have restored 136 bikes on average, annually, for Christmas House and a few similar programs. This year, Sharing Wheels hosted 18 work parties to refurbish bikes for the kids. Fifty volunteers donated 375 hours over two months, for an average of over seven people per event.

Now, as in 1981 when Christmas House was founded, there is great need in Snohomish County communities for support and assistance. Disparities in wealth and advantages not only persist, but are ever more evident. This need has increased dramatically due to the influx of refugees from parts of the world ravaged by war and instability, as in Afghanistan and the Ukraine.

In May 2022, there were about 5,400 Ukrainians in Washington State. That number jumped by nearly a quarter in June.

There are now about 1,200 Ukrainians in Snohomish County alone, the largest Ukrainian population in the state.

These refugees have to essentially begin life over again, needing life support in all areas.

I met a Ukrainian mother at Christmas House this week. She had taken the bus for the 10+ mile trip from Mill Creek to Everett. She spoke no English, relying on a translator on her phone to communicate with me. She arrived too late to get into Christmas House that day and as a result, needed to return another day to find gifts for her children. I hope she was successful later in the week, even with with an awkward cache of gifts to take home on the bus.

Years ago, the Sharing Wheels shop manager had completed the season’s bike deliveries to Christmas House. She told the staff there that the shop had a few more bikes on hand, but these were not really good enough to send over for the kids.

The Christmas House volunteer responded that she wanted those bikes too….The message was “we need them all.” It is satisfying this year to deliver bikes to Christmas House and watch them go right back out immediately with parents for their kids!

An expression considered an African proverb common to many cultures there is “it takes a village to raise a child.” From this we get “it takes a village”. A big village it is that prepares and provides gifts of all sorts to the kids of Snohomish County.

At Sharing Wheels, the Board, staff, and many volunteers – too numerous to name all commit to making the season’s effort a success. And at Christmas House, an astounding 700 plus volunteers work all year to make their program go….

For the future….

Volunteers have lots of fun and get great satisfaction from their work throughout the holidays…and new volunteers are always needed and welcomed, starting now!

Have a look at the websites for the two organizations, and find your niche in the proceedings:

Larry Williamson has been a regular Sharing Wheels volunteer since 2012. This time of year, he coordinates all the parts and bikes needed for the Christmas House program.

Donations kids bikes News Volunteers

Kid bikes for the holidays

A big request from us

Larry (right) giving instruction.
Fixing up kid bikes.

As you read this, our Xmas Kid Bike Work Parties will be in full swing. These workshops are something we take a great deal of pride in. Each year, Sharing Wheels refurbishes donated kid bikes to provide to local charities. They then provide them to children whose parents would otherwise not be able to afford a bike. Charities also donate bikes to children of Afghan refugees, and the need is still greater because of the influx of Ukrainian refugees this year.

All of this is to say that the need is great, and we can only do this with the help of people like you. Our needs are twofold: 

  1. We need kid bikes to repair. We are appealing to you for donations of lightly used kid bikes (any size, any brand) to fix up and donate to kids. We’re looking for about 100 total bikes and we could use about 40 more (give or take).
  2. We need volunteers to fix up kid bikes. Volunteers are vital to the operation of our work parties. Kid bikes are comparatively simpler in construction than adult bikes. Therefore, they’re easier to work on and you don’t need much mechanic experience. We can teach you everything you need to know. Also these bikes also need a good cleaning, so you can just do that if you want to! Our work parties are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6pm – 9pm (except Thanksgiving). You can sign up on our calendar page.

In sum, our Xmas Kid Bike Work Parties are an important program for us to recycle kid bikes and get them into the hands of kids who will ride them. And, crucially, it’s important for the kids receiving them. For children of low-income parents, the program is an example of the spirit of the holiday season. For children of refugees, it can serve as an example of the compassion that the people of this country can show to others. In both cases, it’s magical for them.

News Volunteers

Seeking Board Members

Ready for a new challenge in 2023 that will develop your professional skills while helping the community?

If you care about people, affordable and sustainable transportation, and making a difference in your community, consider serving on the Sharing Wheels board of directors.

It’s an exciting time to be part of our 20-year-old nonprofit. Right now, we seeking candidates for the 2023 election in January who will serve 1 to 3 years. Here’s the board_application (PDF) .

We want Board members who bring a diversity of age, race, cultural background, economic background, and experience, such as:

  • Business or retail management
  • Nonprofit and community connections
  • Finance or fundraising
  • Homeless and social services
  • Lived experience in overcoming challenges such as addiction or homelessness

Board president Kristin Kinnamon is happy to discuss the board role and answer any questions via email, phone, Zoom or by meeting in-person at the shop.

The board meets monthly in downtown Everett – Zooming in is an option. The Board Responsibilities (PDF) document describes the basic expectations of our board, along with links to background documents such as our Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, Annual Report, Budget, and Board Member Agreement.


Reflections on the Summer

Chase with his new bicycle
Chase with his new bike
Deborah with her new bicycle
Deborah with her new bike

By Henry Cotter, Digital Marketer

The unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, has come and gone and all of us at Sharing Wheels have been reflecting on all the activity that took place during the summer. Our monthly in-person outreach at the Everett Farmers Market has been everything we could have hoped for and more. We have met so many of our neighbors and have enjoyed informing them of our mission and our location. People constantly told us that they grew up in or near Everett and never knew about Sharing Wheels. The support we’ve received from the community, in donations and new volunteers, has been truly humbling.

Keeping People and Bikes Moving

Additionally, our Community Bike Program and Work for Wheels program has shown increased participation. We’ve had 6 people log hours towards our Work for Wheels program and 4 people have received free bikes through our Community Bike Program. We really feel these two programs epitomize our ultimate mission of keeping people and bikes moving! Two of the participants of the Community Bike Program, Chase and Deborah, are pictured above.

Our first full year of offering free Mobile Bike Repair Clinics has also been successful. We’re able to do these clinics thanks to a generous grant and we hope to continue to add to our locations next year. We’ve fixed an average of 9 bikes per clinic and we’ve greatly increased our awareness in Everett. We have two more clinics scheduled for the year, September 13 at Evergreen branch of Everett Public Library and September 27 at Mariner Library.

Online presence improved

We’ve also greatly improved our online presence. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see our new website store, then head over and take a peek at all our bikes, accessories and merch. This site is a showcase for our inventory and is being updated all the time. We encourage people to come into the shop to take a test ride and see our bikes firsthand. We have definitely seen an uptick in customers calling and stopping by the shop as a result of browsing our website first. All sales support the many free services and programs of Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop.

Looking ahead

While we’ve been reflecting on our accomplishments, we’re still casting our eyes forward to the last quarter of the year. We’ll be restarting our kid bike workshops soon and need volunteers to help us refurbish kid bikes for kids in need.

Stay tuned for dates and information on all of these activities and so much more.

News Volunteers

Bike Repair on the Move

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Our mission to keep people and bikes moving is expanding way beyond our shop walls…

Last week we kicked off the first of several scheduled mobile bike repair outings for 2022. Thanks to the kind and generous Larson Legacy grant we can now bring our volunteer mechanics (along with a tool box and lots of bike parts) to the streets of Everett and perform minor bike repairs for free.

Not only is this service a great way for us to increase Sharing Wheel’s visibility, but it also enables us to reach a geographically wider and more diverse audience.

Want to meet our biking community members where they congregate and help fix their flat tires and worn brakes? We still need volunteers to sign up and staff these community pop-up events.

We have regularly scheduled repair clinics at First Baptist Church and Evergreen Library and (fingers crossed) soon to be set up at the downtown Everett Library and in the Casino Road neighborhood (South Everett).

Increasing access to bike repair services has been a long-time goal of Sharing Wheels. With the help of our talented volunteers and supportive community partners we can now temporarily ‘park’ ourselves on the streets of Everett and offer repair services in multiple neighborhoods. 

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Who you know helps Sharing Wheels

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Not all of our volunteers refurbish bikes…

Some people can serve as champions of our organization and send a simple email to help us reach our goals. Meet Piper Peterson who did just that last November when we realized we were short on kid bikes for our annual Holiday Kid Bike Giveaway. 

Piper sent an email to her large network of friends requesting gently-used kid bikes and hours later the bike donations came pouring in. The generosity from the community was amazing.

Piper’s support for Sharing Wheels went beyond sending an email.

Thank you, Piper, for spending so many hours collecting, storing, and arranging transport of 87 kid bikes.*  We ultimately met our goal of donating 131 kid bikes to low income families, thanks to Piper and all of the volunteers who helped refurbish donated bikes.

If you have considered volunteering at Sharing Wheels, but have no interest in refurbishing bikes, please reach out to me or join our next monthly volunteer orientation meeting to learn more about the ways you can help Sharing Wheels.

* Much of the credit for transporting kids bikes last year goes to long-time Sharing Wheels volunteer Larry Williamson. He is a stalwart of our kids bike program. Larry and Piper both live in Edmonds – and now they know they have a shared passion for getting bikes to kids.


Moving Ahead (but not moving)

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

After 15 years in our current location inside the Broadway Mall building, many of us have been excited by the prospect of moving to new space down the hall. Volunteers and staff have spent many hours mapping out how we’d fit bikes, volunteers and services in this more retail-oriented location.

The more serious we got about the move, the more concerned we got that it wasn’t the right fit, period. Our monthly costs would double, easy access to the garage and parking lot would be gone, and our work would still be spread across 3 different rooms.

Ultimately, after reviewing the benefits, downsides, and risks of a move, Executive Director Christy Cowley recommended that we “bloom in place.” It’s a strategy that invests in major improvements, but keeps our focus on accomplishing our mission rather than making rent.

A grant from the City of Everett is expected to help pay for a new see-through garage door and more direct entrance off our back alley.

We’ll work to brighten up the garage so it can be a more welcoming community space. Shop Coordinator Aaron Taht and volunteers continue to organize and reconfigure things inside the shop, with the goal of making more efficient use of space to everyone’s benefit – more work stations for volunteers, parts and tools easier to find, less excess and rarely-used stuff in our main shop (you can help by shopping at our March 26 Garage Sale.)

We are committed to working with our landlord to pursue investments in lighting, plumbing, electrical and other improvements to the shop and garage.

Finally, rather than street-front visibility, we plan to invest in our virtual presence. The goal is getting all our ready-to-ride bikes online with photos and basic information to draw customers into the shop.

Bottom line: Sharing Wheels is moving ahead, but not moving. In addition to “blooming in place,” we are excited to put time and resources into mission-based activities like bike repair clinics in the community, a monthly educational booth at the Everett Farmers Market, and connecting even more bikes to people who need them.

Thanks for your continuing support in our 20th year as a nonprofit.

Things We Need:

  • Volunteers to staff events on weekends
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Milk crates
  • Customers – tell your friends and family about Sharing Wheels

If you can help, email Executive Director Christy Cowley or call the shop at 425-252-6952.