Every nonprofit should have a purpose, a problem you are trying to solve. Simply getting bikes is not the problem, for us or our customers. We had more than 300 bikes donated to us last year!
The problem is that bikes need maintenance and repairs. And people don’t have the tools or know-how to fix them. That’s the basis for our new mission statement:
Keeping People and Bikes Moving – with E.A.S.E.
Sharing Wheels Mission
We spell out how we achieve our mission below. To keep focused on it, we hired our first (part-time) executive director at the end of the year. A new shop manager starts in January 2020. But the most important work of Sharing Wheels could not be done without our volunteers.
We couldn’t repair all the bikes, help customers fix their own bikes, or make the impact that we do without dedicated volunteers giving us their time and talents. Volunteers keep bikes affordable, empower people with one-on-one mentoring, learn bike maintenance themselves, and make our nonprofit sustainable. 50 people gave 1,800 hours last year – equal to a full-time staff person.
Open Shop: The tools and bike stands at Sharing Wheels are available for anyone to use, no charge. Free advice is provided by Sharing Wheels staff or experienced volunteers. 4-10 people each week; 73% identify as low income.
Bike Lights: Low income customers who use their bikes for daily transportation can get free front and rear lights. 37 lights installed.
Bike & Parts Sales: Sales of refurbished bikes and used parts are the main source of income for Sharing Wheels. We make sure to have bikes at all price points, so everyone can afford a decent ride. 250 bikes sold.
Work for Wheels: Customers without cash can volunteer time in the shop to earn the parts or bike they need to get around. 10 work-tradeparticipants.
Kids Bikes: Volunteers fix used kids bikes each spring and fall for our Kids Bike Swap and Christmas House programs. We add the new parts and elbow grease needed to keep old bikes going for a new generation. 102 bikes went home with kids during our June Bike Swap. 108 bikes donated to Christmas House.
Bikes to Africa: Some bikes that would never sell still have value. We donate excess bicycles to the Village Bike Project and Vision 224. 111 bikes to Africa
Repair Classes: We had only a few formal bike maintenance classes in 2019, but have recommitted to this important part of our mission in 2020.
Events: County Earth Day, Bike Everywhere Day, WSU Repair Cafes, Family Rides in Arlington and Marysville. Riverside Neighborhood National Night Out.
WorkSource Intern: We hosted a young man for 90 hours of job training.
Grants & In-Kind Support
Nysether Family Foundation – $6,500 grant
BIKES Club of Snohomish County – $2,000 grant
Everett Port Gardner Rotary Club – $1,750 grant
Tulalip Tribes – $1,000 grant
Boeing Employee matching funds – $1,000
Sno-Isle Food CoOp – $917 “register round-up” donation, meeting space
Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Church – $500 donation, group work party
Snohomish Giving Circle – $400 donation
501 Commons – Satterberg Foundation – in-kind support
Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop supports essential transportation for many people who are at risk for severe illness should they contract coronavirus. We benefit from the time and talents of many senior-age volunteers, also considered vulnerable to the virus.
It’s hard to keep a bike shop clean. And it’s hard to help someone fix a bike without getting closer than public health recommends.
In light of these concerns, Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop will be closed to the public starting Wednesday, March 18.
Until then, only four people will be permitted in the shop at one time. That will allow staff, volunteers and customers to maintain social distancing, clean hands, and clean surfaces.
From mid-March to at least early April the shop will remain closed for most retail and DIY operations. Basic tools and a bike stand will be available in the shop garage for people who need to fix their own flat or make a minor adjustment. Customers who want to buy a bike in-person can call the shop to make an appointment at 425-252-6952. We also list higher end bikes and a variety of parts on our eBay store.
Sharing Wheels staff will remain at work: repairing bikes, organizing the shop, managing programs, and posting items for online sales.
Regular volunteers can schedule time to assist in the shop. We will be maintaining a 4-person maximum occupancy of our shop space.
The basic bike repair class scheduled for March 25 is rescheduled to May 13. A plan for the Kids Bike Work Parties scheduled to start in April will be announced at a later date.
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.
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.