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Kiwanis club (re)cycles bikes for community

(L-R) Kiwanians Hank Keaton and Bob Gedney load up bikes leftover from last summer’s Rotary Auction to recycle into new bikes. - Photo courtesy of Hank Keaton
(L-R) Kiwanians Hank Keaton and Bob Gedney load up bikes leftover from last summer’s Rotary Auction to recycle into new bikes.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Hank Keaton

Old bikes find new life after a rejuvenating term in Purdy prison.

A bicycle will usually get a person from point A to B, but they are also helping prison inmates learn valuable skills and, in staying out of landfills, providing wheels for people in the community who really need them.

Two years ago, the Bainbridge Island Kiwanis learned from their fellow club in Gig Harbor of a bicycle reconditioning program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy, where inmates take used bikes and restore and repair them. The bikes are then redistributed to needy kids and adults in the community.

“It’s a win, win win,” Kiwanis club member Hank Keaton said. “Our mission is to serve the children of the world, so that caught our attention...(but then we found) adults and children benefit as (a form of) transportation.

“It’s a great way to recycle and great for the environment as well and provides active learning of a profession for people doing the reconditioning.”

Keaton and fellow Kiwanis member Dean Newcomb collect bicycles throughout the year and then take loads to Purdy and bring new ones back around Christmas time each year.

“Purdy does a really good job,” Newcomb said. “Most looked like they were brand new.”

The Rotary Club gave Kiwanis about 35 bikes and 10 to 12 boxes of assorted parts from the auction last summer alone.

The WCCW Bike Program Supervisor, Officer Teresa Crutchfield, sees valuable benefits in the program, which refurbishes 30 to 40 bikes a month, receiving bikes and parts from various service organizations.

“The offender learns a valuable trade that will assist her in obtaining employment upon release,” Crutchfield wrote via email. “The offender learns valuable work ethics that are important in maintaining employment once a job has been found. They also see tangible results of their hard work and experience the positive feelings associated with giving back to the commuity or to someone in need.”

She adds that “the offenders actually enjoy coming to work and that they feel good about giving something back to the community.”

Many of the refurbished and rebuilt bicycles are distributed on Bainbridge Island through Helpline House’s Santa Shop and some through last year’s Bicycle Rodeo.

Even before this program started, there was always a need for bicycles, said Clara Manny, manager of volunteers at Helpline House.

Some kids need transportation to get home after school activities, but their single parent may be at work. Other kids might feel left out being the only one among his or her friends without a bicycle.

Some of the adult bicycles have helped provide reliable transportation for people without cars to get to work or to continue outpatient treatment.

Manny says one college student would take the bus to Poulsbo, but then had no way to get from the bus stop to the school campus.

Another man worked at night, and could not take a bus, as they run only during commuter hours.

More recently, the Kiwanis Club sent 25 to 30 bicycles on a donated Hill Moving truck to the Jefferson Parish public school system in Louisiana to help replace bicycles kids had lost in hurricanes.

“It seems to me like a very good program for the number of people it helps,” Manny said.

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Cycling around

The Bainbridge Island Kiwanis Club will accept bicycles and bike parts in any condition. To donate a bike, call Dean Newcomb at (360) 649-4404 or email Hank Keaton at hfkeaton@aol.com. Those in need of bicycles should contact Helpline House at 842-7621.

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