By Britt Appleton, Social Media Specialist
Last Friday, March 23rd, I attended my first Create a Commuter workshop, which took place at Central City Concern in northwest Portland. As we lined up the bikes on the sidewalk outside of Central City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center, dozens of spectators on the street admired the shiny bicycles. Everyone wanted a bike. Looking at the line of fully-outfitted, black KHS Urban-X bicycles, I wanted one, too.
To participate in Create a Commuter, a person needs to be enrolled in a workforce development program with one of our partner organizations. We get the bikes and their accessories through a Federal Job Access Reverse Commute fund administered locally through TriMet. The bikes are built to each participant’s specific needs by our volunteer Guest Mechanics.
Tom was the first participant to arrive. He said he could barely sleep the night before, and he felt like a kid on Christmas. He was so pleased by the look of the bikes he kept touching them and calling them “perfect.” The quality of these bicycles is something that almost every participant immediately notices. They assumed they were getting beat up old bikes and were shocked when they walked into the workshop space. A participant named Moshe said, “I knew they’d be nice. I didn’t know they’d be that nice.” Giving adults who are making great strides at self-sufficiency something so beautiful and functional is an important part of the success of this program. The quality represents an investment in their health and happiness. It is us communicating that we as a community believe in them. One participant remarked, “…these bikes make me want to ride them.”
We have been partnering with Central City Concern for a few years now, and the strength of the partnership informed the quality of this workshop. They do a fantastic job of selecting participants. I was impressed by how much knowledge there was in the room. I could tell that these really were people who were going to ride these bikes.
The day could not have gone smoother. The participants were excited to learn more about their bikes, so they were very engaged with our instruction. They were all so thrilled about what these bikes will do for their lives. Lanie shouted out, “I’m Lanie and with one of your bikes I will get a job!” Our bike ride along the waterfront in the bright sun was fantastic and felt representative of the mood of the group, who were all so happy to be able to ride.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributes to the Create a Commuter program – the volunteers who put the bikes together and help lead the workshop, the donors who make the entire program possible, and Central City Concern for partnering with us.
See more pictures from the Create a Commuter workshop here.
Photos by Britt Appleton