An old bike can mean a fresh start at WE-CYCLE-USA, a local nonprofit bike shop that fixes up bicycles for adults and kids in need.
The idea came to Executive Director Robert Chacon when he was working for a company that helped people find jobs in the state of Arizona. As he found people jobs, he often ran into a problem when they couldn’t find a way to get to work.
“I got all my friends bicycles out of their backyards and put them in my garage and started working on them,” he said. “I started giving bicycles to my clients. I got them a job and a bike. I did that for a while and the next thing you know, I had 100 bicycles in my garage and my wife said you’ve got to get those out of here.”
Chacon opened up WE-CYCLE bike shop and the idea took off quickly from there. He organized it so that anyone in need could come in for a bike, but they had to work for it. Adults work eight hours in the shop either fixing up a child’s bike or helping with landscaping or other projects around the shop. Once the eight hours are completed the individual is allowed to select a used bicycle. The bike they select is given to them “as is” and it’s up to the new owner to fix it up from there using the skills they’ve learned from working in the shop.
“They start working on their bike,” Chacon said. “They take ownership of that bike. We give them the parts and knowledge necessary to fix the bike. Once they are done fixing their bike they get to ride off with it for free.”
People who already have a bike are welcome to use the tools inside the shop at no cost and children under 16 years old can receive a bike for free.
WE-CYCLE works with local homeless shelters and various other groups to identify those who could use a bike. They work with all skill levels to get people working and earning a bike of their own. They also work with local charities to provide bikes to kids in need.
The shop was started in Mesa, but recently moved to a new location in south central Phoenix at 521 S. 1st Ave. In three months at the new location they’ve given away 40 bicycles. With the holidays coming up, they have an even greater need for more bikes.
WE-CYCLE is working with American Legion Post 41 to provide bikes for its annual Christmas party for local kids. They’ll be hosting bike drives across the Valley, including in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Used kids or adult bikes can be dropped off in the parking lot at Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St., from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 16. The bikes can be in any condition, as they will be fixed up by shop volunteers.
For more information on WE-CYCLE, visit www.wecycleusa.org or call (602) 516-0002.
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