KidsPeace and Community Bike Works Partner to Help Kids
Orefield, PA. December 7, 2011 – Two charitable organizations that dedicate their efforts to helping kids have formed a partnership that will enrich the lives of deserving children and teach them important life lessons. Community Bike Works and KidsPeace are launching the inaugural "Community Bike Works at KidsPeace Earn a Bike” program at the Orefield, PA, campus. Selected boys and girls in KidsPeace residential programs will attend the three month program that will teach bicycle repair and maintenance, safety and teamwork. Each child who successfully completes the course will be given the bike he or she has fixed up, along with a helmet and a certificate of course completion.
Rob Scott, who is the Facilities and Recreation Supervisor at KidsPeace, read about Community Bike Works (CBW) on the Internet (www.communitybikeworks.org) and contacted Executive Director and founder Stefan Goslawski to see if the two nonprofits could work together. The more he learned, the more Rob believed that the program would be a great benefit to KidsPeace kids. “Last spring I took a few kids to attend classes at CBW in Allentown,” Rob says. “They did really well and were thrilled to have earned their own bikes to take home with them when they left KidsPeace.” There is a vocational aspect to the program that particularly excited Rob because the education department was able to obtain Title 1 funding, as well as a grant from Just Born to purchase supplies to run the program at the KidsPeace facility.
After that, Rob actively recruited KidsPeace associates as volunteers to start up the program on the KidsPeace residential campus in Orefield. Rob and the volunteers attended 12 weeks of classes at Community Bike Works and learned how to take bikes apart, repair them and put them back together. They also learned about Stefan’s philosophy and the more subtle aspects of the program that help the kids learn life skills and develop strong work ethics.
According to Stefan, a retired teacher and bike shop owner, he founded Community Bike Works in 1994 after reading about a similar program that taught parents how to fix their kids’ bikes and after receiving a letter from an elderly lady who urged him to teach Allentown kids important skills. With the assistance of the Allentown Conference of Churches, which helped him gain nonprofit status, Stefan launched the program.
Today, the 12 week program teaches students from the Allentown and Bethlehem School Districts at certain middle schools and at the organization’s headquarters at 235 North Madison Street in Allentown’s 18102. “It is the most enjoyable job I have ever had,” Stefan says with a smile. The program currently works with around 250 kids a year, and Stefan expects that number to reach 350 in 2012. “We really need more volunteers in order to expand even more,” Stefan adds. “It is hard because we need a 12-week commitment from our volunteers to facilitate one of our classes.”
Additionally, Stefan has a group of enthusiastic volunteers from Cedar Crest and Muhlenberg Colleges who help the kids with their reading skills through one on one tutoring. “It is so exciting when the school districts tell us that kids we have taught and tutored have increased their reading levels by one to four grade levels and have improved their state test scores dramatically,” Stefan reports. “We also teach our kids that working hard for something will be rewarding,” Stefan points out. “They need to sign a contract, make and fulfill a commitment, help others in the class with their bikes, take pre and post-class tests, learn safety rules, write a thank you letter to the bike’s donor and keep a journal in order to earn their bikes.” According to Stefan, there is also a vocational skills development component to the program that teaches kids how to read manuals, use tools and do repair and maintenance work. These skills may help them secure a job when after they leave school.
Stefan Goslawski asks the community to donate bikes (20 inch BMX bikes are particularly needed) or funds, but his biggest need is for volunteers to work with the kids and help them learn skills and values that will last them a lifetime. Contact him at 610-434-1140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Scott encourages donations of 24” to 26” mountain bikes to KidsPeace. Rob’s number is 610-799-7487, or email him at Robert.Scott@kidspeace.org.