Lessons in leverage – fathers & daughters building community with bikes

By Heidi Beierle, Volunteer Storyteller

Paul is a Community Cycling Center donor and regular volunteer.  I spoke with him and his daughter, Nora, during a recent Tuesday night volunteer drop-in at the Alberta  shop.  I’m a volunteer, too, and curious why other volunteers contribute time and money to the organization.

“I want to be a good role model for Nora,” Paul says.  “I care about bikes and helping provide inexpensive access to transportation.  I got Nora her first bike when she was four.  After that, I wanted to give bikes to other kids.”

I’m suddenly reminded that my dad taught me to ride a bike when I was four.

“You can let go now,” I told him.  He was holding the back of my seat and running along behind me.  He didn’t answer, though.  I looked for him, and he was standing way back with a big smile stretched across his face.  I was balancing and pedaling on my own!

Paul’s voice brings me back.  “My first volunteer job with Community Cycling Center was during a summer bike giveaway in New Columbia.  We gave away 65-85 bikes and worked on others that needed repair.”

I nod and smile.  I first volunteered at the Holiday Bike Drive.  I knew right away I’d do it again.  Happy kids.  Shiny bikes.  Unbridled joy.

“What do you like about volunteering here?” I ask Nora.

“I think it’s fun,” she says.  Nora’s eight.  She has kitten ears on her headband that stick up attentively. “I get to handle tools I don’t normally get to handle.  I like cleaning the bikes a lot.  And they have good snacks.”  She’s busy with a rag, cleaning a bike for the Holiday Bike Drive.

“Nora, what’s ‘leverage’?” Paul asks.

“It’s a cheater bar for when it’s too hard,” she replies, focusing on the bike.

“I really enjoy meeting all the volunteers,” Paul says as he cranks loose a bolt holding the front wheel on the bicycle Nora is cleaning.  “And there are so many different jobs that we all do.  But no matter our role, each of us is a community builder.”

Paul takes the wheel off and hands the wrench to Nora.  Nora puts the wrench back in its place in the toolbox and returns to the bike with her rag.  Everyone at the shop knows who she is, and I watch them smile when she scampers through the maze of wrenching stations on one of her kitten missions.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach other people on Tuesday nights,” Paul says.  “I wish I had twice as much time to give.  Teaching my daughter puts me over the moon.”

I can’t help but notice the leverage in this father-daughter scene. The Community Cycling Center does so much more when people like Paul and Nora extend the value of their time by also donating. Contributions from volunteers mean more happy kids, safer commuters, and more people accessing affordable transportation. Contributions are the cheater bar that makes the organization’s work easier and fun, that fuels community building, that makes magic in people’s lives. Thank you!


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Hours: Open Wednesday-Friday 11AM-7PM & Saturday/Sunday 12PM-5PM. Closed Monday & TuesdayBike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786