Categories
News Volunteers

Spring 2020 News

GiveBIG for people and bikes

Every day we see new families and neighbors out riding – biking is a great way to stay healthy and get around during this stressful time. We have more faith than ever in the value of Sharing Wheels programs and services (like teaching people to lube those squeaky chains!). 
During this COVID pandemic, bike shops are considered “essential business.” Unfortunately, we basically had to close to the public for the past month while we figured out the best ways to keep our small shop, staff, customers, and volunteers safe. The good news is, the shop will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays again starting April 22 – with measures in place to maintain social distance and cleanliness.
The bad news is we estimate lost revenue of $6,000 to $10,000 from COVID 19. This includes shop sales and reduced grant and in-kind donations, since local business and bike club supporters have had their own coronavirus impacts.
We know many people and businesses are hurting during this time. But if you believe in our mission of “Keeping People and Bikes Moving” please consider donating to Sharing Wheels. 

Executive Director: Volunteers make our wheels go round and round …

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Life has certainly gone sideways these past few weeks with the COVD-19 outbreak.  Adjusting to our new norm has us all pausing and reflecting on our families, our friends, our health and our future.

At Sharing Wheels we are thinking a lot about how much our volunteers contribute to our organization. To date this year we’ve had 20 volunteers donate 460 hours, tracking well ahead of the same period last year. Eight of those 20 volunteers are brand new to Sharing Wheels!

In addition to refurbishing bikes, volunteers help us reorganize parts, price merchandise, remove trash and advise customers. We simply couldn’t exist without our volunteers!

Volunteering is limited due to social distance measures. Some regular volunteers are picking up bikes from the shop to repair at home. Others are helping to post bikes for sale online. Other jobs that can be done remotely include:

  • Data entry – such as keeping bike inventory updated
  • Graphic design – create posters and slides for our in-shop display
  • Marketing – help drum up customers.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering now or in the future, contact me.

We are familiar with disruptions and have experience working through hiccups with limited resources. We also know from experience that expanding programs on stretched dollars works best when we all pull together. So please, stay well and when the at-home restrictions are lifted, stop by and consider joining the Sharing Wheels volunteer team.

 

Volunteer Profile: From books to bikes

Man with a clipboard organizing bike parts
Larry still likes to track and catalog things.

Larry likes bikes. He also likes the people he meets through Sharing Wheels. It’s a combination that has made the retired librarian an essential part of the shop since 2012. That’s the year Larry Williamson, of Edmonds, took a bike maintenance class from then-shop manager Kristi Knodell.  He’s been a constant presence in the shop ever since.

Technically, Larry is a volunteer. A SUPER volunteer. He is in the shop three full days a week, every other week (when he and his wife Jean aren’t babysitting their grandson).  He enjoys fellow volunteers, staff, and the diverse customers.

“People want simple things,” he says.  Like the guy who came in recently with a wrecked rear wheel and no money. “We got him back on the road,” Larry says with understated pride.

Larry always steps in whenever there is something that needs to be done in the shop, no matter how unglamorous the duty. He takes out the trash, sorts the recycling, and counts the tubes and tires for the kids bike programs. He’s helped manage both the Kids Bike Swap and the Christmas House projects for many years. “Families are very appreciative,” of the bikes that volunteers fix, he says.

Beyond bikes, Larry has also served on the Sharing Wheels Board and as a member of the Shop Operations Committee. “Larry’s experience in the shop and as a manager made him very valuable in those policy-making roles,” said Sharing Wheels Board President Kristin Kinnamon. “But the biggest quality he brings is generosity – of time, money, and especially of spirit. Larry really cares about our staff and the people we serve.”

Larry’s bike(s): Larry has one Sharing Wheels bike so far, a Specialized he keeps as a backup to his Marin San Rafael. “I need more bikes,” he says, eyeing the latest lightweight road bike on the Sharing Wheels sales floor.

Favorite rides: 7 Hills of Kirkland. Unlike many people, Larry prefers going up, not down.

Family bikers: One of Larry’s three daughters Jan also enjoys biking. They have done the Seattle to Portland and Kitsap Color Classic rides together, and other rides. His wife Jean doesn’t bike much, but contributes some wonderful homemade food to fuel Sharing Wheels volunteers.

Volunteer time in 2020: 18 days in the shop and 79 total hours.

Impact: A home for the homeless

John gives thumbs up to bike wrapped for shipping
John is always learning new things in the shop. This day it was how to wrap a bike for shipping.

“When I was on the streets, this was a safe place I could come.”

John was a heroin addict back then, but staff saw he was more than that. “When I came to the shop, I was looked at as a cyclist, never as a bum. I appreciated that.”

After getting clean, John worked his 8 hours of court-ordered service at the shop to start the year. He’s been a volunteer on his own time ever since. “I kinda just knew I wanted to be part of this place,” he said. Biking is a healthy habit John wants to take into his sobriety.

He appreciates the chance to learn more about bikes as a volunteer. “I’m really good at riding bikes. I just don’t know how to fix them yet,” he said.

John’s not the first volunteer to come in off the streets. Sharing Wheels has always been a refuge for homeless and low income people. One year a man living in a nearby hotel on a voucher happily spent Thursday nights working on kids bikes for Christmas House rather than sitting in his room alone. It was a win-win situation.

Volunteer time in 2020: 8 days in the shop and 34 total hours.

Woman signs in a bicycle
Sally helps out at a homeless outreach event.

Sally lived in a tent when she first started coming to Sharing Wheels. She would come in frequently because parts of her cheap bike were always breaking – again. If she didn’t have the few bucks to pay for the part, she’d do some Work for Wheels* volunteer time to give back to the shop – and stay out of the cold for awhile.

She wrapped her bike in foil to make it look ugly, but it got stolen anyway. Finally, the shop manager got her a better quality bike that could stand up to daily riding. Sally has since gotten a folding bike (better for buses and apartments), and is able to fix it herself thanks to the bike maintenance class she took at Sharing Wheels. An outgoing and friendly person who now has a job and stable housing, Sally still volunteers at outreach events – happy to share the impact of Sharing Wheels.

*Work for Wheels allows people to trade volunteer time so they can purchase needed parts or a bicycle.

Annual Report for 2019

Sharing Wheels accomplished a lot last year:

  • Took in more than 300 donated bikes
  • Adopted a new mission statement and strategic goals
  • Had 50 volunteers give more than 1,800 hours in the shop

Our full Annual Report includes many more numbers, including a budget summary.

Categories
News Volunteers

Join Our Board

Updated November 2019

Board Application (PDF)

Do you care about sustainable transportation, serving diverse people in need, and making a difference in your community? Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop is seeking volunteers for our nonprofit board of directors.

Board members commit to monthly Board meetings, and may take on additional committee or outreach work as well. Expect to give 4 to 8 hours of time each month. You’ll get the satisfaction of helping Sharing Wheels mature and grow. (There are other volunteer benefits, too!)

We have just hired our first executive director and soon a new shop manager. Staff are in charge of running the bike shop, classes, and bike donation programs. The board’s role is to make sure the organization as a whole is funded and serves our mission of “Keeping People and Bikes Moving.”

We seek 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

Board members are usually elected to one-year terms each January, but can also be appointed by the board at any time.

We have at least two and up to four openings starting in 2020.

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.

Here’s the board_application (PDF) – mail or bring to shop anytime.

Categories
News Volunteers

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.

Categories
News Uncategorized Volunteers

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.

Categories
classes News Volunteers

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

Categories
classes kids bikes News Volunteers

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.

Categories
News Volunteers

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.