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.