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Expanding Our Reach Beyond the Back Alley

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

As the year ends, I want to look back at one of our new, major programs from 2022: Mobile Bike Repair Clinics.

Getting a broken bike to the Sharing Wheels shop for quick repairs can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for someone who lives beyond our neighborhood or has no other mode of transportation. We recognized this and decided to act.  

Partnering with the Evergreen and Mariner libraries, churches, and other places where low-income folks might congregate, we set up our pop-up repair stand and offered 15 free bike repairs events in 2022! 

Off we went into the community, with two volunteer mechanics, a mobile tool kit, and lots of extra bike parts. And like so many of our in-shop encounters, our services were not limited to free repairs.  

One of our very first customers at the Mariner Library clinic was a middle schooler who lived at the homeless shelter across the street and had scheduled his summer day around being first in line at our pop-up repair clinic. He rolled in with a wobbly rear tire just as we were setting up, using both his feet to slow him down, asking if we could fix his bike. 

Turned out his bike was hopelessly beyond repair, but we fixed the wheel and did our best with the brakes. We arranged with his mom to deliver a much safer and fully functional bike, as well as a ‘super cool’ skater helmet, from our shop inventory the following week.  He was pleased and so were we!  

And bikes weren’t the only wheeled form of transportation we fixed. At the First Baptist Church in downtown Everett we repaired 10 walkers (all of which were long overdue for maintenance) while customers enjoyed the church’s Friday night meal service. It felt good to help and see people maneuvering their repaired walkers back to the bus stop with ease. 

Of the 79 people we served at our free mobile bike repair clinics this year, these are just a couple examples of the meaningful contributions and impact we have on people and their ability to stay mobile. 

And simply none of the repairs could have happened without a grant from The Larson Legacy Foundation or our amazing volunteers who staffed the pop-up repair stand and greeted every customer and their bikes with respect and encouragement. The volunteers’ dedication to our mission, of keeping people and bikes (and now walkers!) moving, allows us to continue to expand our offerings beyond the walls of our shop. 

It’s been a privilege to work with our community partners who have helped promote this new program and we can’t wait to double down in 2023 with even more bike repair events around Snohomish County. 

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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:
www.christmas-house.org
www.sharingwheels.org

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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News Uncategorized Volunteers

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.

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Donations kids bikes News Volunteers

Year-End Giving

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

Sharing Wheels would not have made it through the COVID challenges of 2020 without a doubling of support from our donors and supporters.

We still need your support. As we enter the winter months, our bike sales slow and our bank account drops. Our budget relies on one thing to maintain our free programs, staff and open shop: You.

You may already be a volunteer, a bike donor, or a customer. We hope you will be a financial donor as well. Give a little if that’s all your budget allows, or give more to help cover for people who can’t donate as much.

Our goal is raising $15,000 to keep people and bikes moving.

All donations made by Dec. 20 will be matched by our board and supporters, so your money goes twice as far.*

How do your donations impact people’s lives? Bikes bring joy, get people places, develop skills, build community.

“I rode the bike everywhere and every single day, for appointments,  groceries … I came home wet on rainy days, but the fun part – me and my kids love getting wet in rain.” –

Prapti, recipient of a bike and trailer through our Community Bikes program
  • $30 fixes a kids bike – we’re giving away 100+ kids bikes for the holidays
  • $50 covers minor repairs & parts to get someone back on the road
  • $100 gives a Community Bike, lock, lights and helmet to an adult in need
  • $150 sends our Mobile Repair Clinic out to fix bikes for free

We welcome gifts at all levels. The board has also set goals to get

  • 30 gifts of $50
  • 10 past donors to increase their gift to $100

Come by the shop anytime to see your gifts at work. Some of my favorite moments this past year have been watching our customers and clients help each other – like when the homeless guy helped a woman load her new bike in her car as his way of giving back for a free repair, or when amateur mechanics crowd around a bike trying to diagnose a problem.

Your support of Sharing Wheels makes these interactions possible. Thank you for keeping people and bikes moving.

*All gifts up to $7,500 will be matched by additional donations from our supporters. You may also work for a company that does corporate matching, such as Boeing, Microsoft or Salesforce.

See our 2020 Annual Report. Save the date for our Annual Meeting & Elections: Jan. 26 via Zoom.