More than just a bike
When my family immigrated to the United States, my parents were forced to navigate virtually every facet of our new life in America in an unfamiliar language and an unfamiliar place. We were not in Iran anymore, and the chaotic sounds of war were replaced with the urban landscape of Cleveland.
This meant, for the first time, my brother and I had free rein to play outside on the grass beside our high rise apartment building, without worrying about sirens signaling the impending air raids.
Many of our new friends were on bicycles. As an eight year old, I was often envious of the kids on bikes, but our family was barely getting by and couldn’t afford such luxuries.
So when I first volunteered at the Community Cycling Center’s Holiday Bike Drive many years later, I was profoundly struck by the immigrant families who are no doubt experiencing the same transition my family endured. And it made me realize something striking. For them, the gift of a bicycle is so much more than just a toy. It’s a warm welcome into our community, at a time when they need to hear and feel that warmth. It’s relief for parents who are cash strapped and frantically searching for affordable gifts. And for the kids, it’s an opportunity to fit in with peers who already have bikes.
Earlier this month, we hosted our 23rd annual Holiday Bike Drive. Hundreds of happy children from low-income households took home bikes that will provide them the freedom and joy to explore their neighborhoods on two wheels. To date, the Community Cycling Center has provided nearly 11,000 bicycles to people who otherwise lacked access, many of them children. It is just part of our work to broaden access to bicycling, but it is a very important part.
“We have been facing a really hard time”, wrote one parent at this year’s drive. “Bikes are not something I could have done. Thank you for doing this great work!”
We appreciate the hundreds of volunteers who work all year to refurbish donated bikes to give away, and the hundreds more who help with the big event. A special thanks to Nossa Familia for keeping our volunteers caffeinated, and to Dave’s Killer Bread for the bagels. We also appreciate our hard-working staff, our host Legacy Emanuel, and all the generous funders who made this event possible. You shared the generous spirit of Portland, and welcomed people of all backgrounds into our community of cyclists.
If you have the opportunity, please thank our generous sponsors!
Multnomah Athletic Foundation
Pacific Power Foundation
United Way Columbia-Willamette