By Nancy Serediak
The Thunder Bay chapter of Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) has been steadily refurbishing unwanted or discarded bikes since 2006. The group is composed entirely of volunteers who donate their time and efforts at weekly sessions to help strip or repair bikes. B4H hosts bi-annual bike sales on the Lakehead University campus, as well as the non-competitive Mini-GO Ride each spring, with May 2017 marking 25 years of this event. Money raised through all efforts funds the purchase of shipping containers, which transport repaired mountain bikes and parts to destinations worldwide.
Spring 2016 saw one member of B4H, Mark Serediak, travel to El Salvador to help train citizens in bicycle repair. The trip followed a shipment of mountain bikes that had occurred the year prior. This left time to have the bicycles moved to a holding yard, while the shipping container was modified on-site to create a bicycle repair shop for local mechanics. The trip occurred in partnership, with valuable support from Dr. Jerome Harvey and Medical Equipment Modernization Opportunity (MEMO) another local group which regularly sends redundant hospital equipment to countries in need. Despite some early travel delays, the trip went well; three members of the community received great instruction in bike maintenance, and there were some happy recipients of newly refurbished mountain bikes.
In 2016, long-time chair Gareth Pritchard officially resigned from the organization to devote more retirement time to family, friends, and travel. Although B4H continues to maintain an active corps of positive volunteers, Pritchard’s dedication, spirit, and uniquely contagious enthusiasm are missed.
For information on upcoming events, check out their website and Facebook page. Or if you’d like to learn how to handle a spoke wrench, new volunteers are always welcome (and you don’t have to be an expert mechanic). Come learn, and help the wheels keep moving at B4H.