Volunteer Spotlight: Leah Benson

LeahLeah has been volunteering since August of 2008, when she first came to town to visit her brother Brian, our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. She moved to Portland shortly thereafter, and over the past year has given more than 150 hours of her time in support of a wide variety of programs and projects.

Whether co-coordinating over 200 volunteers at the Holiday Bike Drive, supporting the Rigler Elementary Bike Club, or wrenching on Tuesday Drop-In Nights, she approaches volunteering with enthusiasm, empathy and a killer sense of humor.

How long have you been volunteering at the Community Cycling Center? How did you start?
I’ve been volunteering for about a year now. I actually started before I even moved to Portland in January of 2009 – in August 2008 I was in town visiting for the weekend and I came along to Brian’s very first volunteer group. (Based on that, I’d like to take partial to complete responsibility for his success at the Community Cycling Center.) As soon as I moved to Portland, and finding myself with copious amounts of time on my hands, I started coming to volunteer nights, helping out in the office, postering for events around town and doing just about anything else that the Community Cycling Center could come up with for me to do.

Why do you volunteer here?
I volunteer here to learn more about bikes, to be a part of a great community, to work for a cause I believe in and to be actively involved in and supportive of something that means so much to my brother.

What is your favorite program?
I love coming to volunteer night on Tuesdays. I learn so much every week, both about bikes and about the people that I volunteer with. For me, Tuesday nights are just as much about relationship building as they are about bike mechanics, I think that’s what makes volunteer night so special. Also, coming consistently to work on Holiday Bike Drive bikes on Tuesdays makes volunteering at Holiday Bike Drive even more fun, because I can see specific bikes that I remember working on go to kids who are ridiculously excited to receive them.

Tell us about your dream bike.
It’s a 1987 Schwinn Supersport in pink with white accents. Fortunately, this also happens to be the bike that I ride every day; I’m a bit obsessed with it. I freely admit that I know very little about bikes and bike parts; however, I know almost every detail about this bike, including its exact birth date (April 27, 1987).

What do you do when you’re not here?
I work for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), which is challenging and interesting every day. When I’m not working, I like to explore the city by bike, talk about Wisconsin, enlighten people about Wisconsin’s many virtues beyond cheese/dairy production, buy cheap clothing, play dress-up in said clothing, eat delicious food, occasionally cook food and enjoy life in general.

Photo by Ashley Mitchell

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