Bike Shop #4! 2014-2015
In summer 2014, RBH was once again homeless: the landowner sold “The Warehouse” on Elder St. After a frantic search RBH moved into another empty 5,000 square foot building at 2266 Atlas St. Harrisburg. Formerly a 1920’s vehicle maintenance shop, and later furniture storage facility, this new “Warehouse” also had no electricity, running water, bathrooms, or HVAC. Once again volunteers installed basic electricity with lighting and a few outlets. During a frantic Labor Day weekend they moved hundreds of bikes, storage units, parts and tools to their new (and current) home.
RBH has continued to grow in this new neighborhood. Dozens of volunteers continue to receive donations for bikes, recycle, rehab, and give away bicycles to the needy and deserving, and train new owners how to maintain, and safely ride their bikes. In 2015 a new “safety vest program” began. Now everyone who gets a bike at RBH also gets a fluorescent safety vest for free. Two more partnerships were recently developed by RBH. In 2015, Life Cycle Carlisle, a non-profit bike shop was established with the assistance of RBH. RBH also helped the Lebanon County Mission and Lebanon County Pedals For Progress create a nonprofit bike shop of their own. RBH is now busier than ever.
Today: Making our Mission Permanent: 2016-2017
RBH was recently formally incorporated in early 2016 as a 501c3, IRS designated non-profit charitable organization by its Board of Trustees. To create a permanent home for the organization with adequate space and facilities, a capital campaign has been initiated to raise funds to purchase and renovate a building in Harrisburg and to create a stable base of funding for continuing service and outreach into the future. By the end of the year some $80,000 was in our Campaign account making us slightly over halfway to our $150,000 goals. Our first Annual Report was produced, and we purchased and rolled out a this website
The Warehouse shop was very busy during the year. Hundreds of lightly and heavily-used, unneeded, and unwanted bicycles (and even a couple of tricycles and scooters) were donated to us. As a result we were able to give away more than 1500 individual bikes during the year, plus we gave way some 625+ children’s bikes for Christmas through a variety of charities, organizations, schools and churches. While it’s really difficult to estimate, volunteers in the Warehouse and working during neighborhood block parties and other outreach events fixed as many as 2500 bikes!
2017 witnessed a number of exciting developments. A “Stakeholders Group” – an advisory committee to the Board of Directors – was formed and met nearly every month to discuss new outreach opportunities, new potential partnerships, and to deal with the everyday managment of a volunteer bike shop. A publications committee was formed, the result of which was an expanded use of our new logo. Banners, sandwich signs with the new logo were rolled out and used during outreach events, and even special logoed tee-shirts for our volunteers appeared in the Warehouse. The new logo went on our new website, and was also used in a Twitter feed to announce the 2017 Challenge Match Campaign. This campaign, active during November and December, was so successful that the matching amount was raised from $7,000 to $12,000 at the end of November so we might encourage our supporters to bring in some $24,000 to the campaign fund. The Campaign fund at year-end totaled some $102,000!
The fundraising committee of the Stakeholders engaged a new volunteer to focus on writing grant proposals to foundations and corporate donors. His first effort was rewarded with a $2,500 grant from the Josiah and Bessie Kline Foundation to initiate a bike helmet give-away program. Now kids getting free bikes all get free helmets as well!
The activities at the Warehouse were just as eventful. We sent our first shipping container-load of 190 bicycles, plus parts and tires to the poor in Liberia in western Africa. Plus we gave away hundreds of bikes to local schools in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster and Philadelphia, to local organizations like “In the Light” in Harrisburg and Camden, NJ, and to educational institutions like Dickinson College’s Handlebar. Some bikes that could not be repaired were even sent to Maryland to be turned into “bike art.” Our outreach to local neighborhood bike-repair and bike rodeo events and on behalf of the City of Harrisburg kept our volunteers extra-busy during the year.”
And again – we became “homeless” in mid-September 2019!. The facility served us reasonably well since fall 2014, but now we need a bigger space! Thanks for everybody for helping with the move this week (September 13-17, 2019). Its been a wild and rewarding experience but we are moving towards a permanent home.