Fixing bikes, influencing lives

Homeward Alliance mobile bike repair. Bike owner Amy Roth looks on as volunteer Jim Smith adjusts her brakes.
Bike owner Amy Roth looks on as volunteer Jim Smith adjusts her brakes

Homeward Alliance mobile bike repair

When the wind came up, the clouds darkened over the mountains to the west, and the first raindrops fell on a Friday afternoon in early June, Mark Brewer, was not bothered. In the middle of setting up the Homeward Alliance mobile bike repair shop outside the Murphy Center for Hope, 242 Conifer St. in Fort Collins, Brewer smiled and said, “There are brighter skies behind the storm.”

And there were. By the time they set the shop up in the parking lot, the wind had calmed and the raindrops disappeared. Several volunteer mechanics had shown up and worked, making repairs on bicycles free of charge.

Homeward Alliance mobile bike repair. Bike program manager Mark Brewer poses with volunteer mechanic Eli Strote by the mobile bike shop
Bike program manager Mark Brewer poses with volunteer mechanic Eli Strote by the mobile bike shop. Homeward Alliance mobile bike repair.

The mobile shop shows up once a month at this location and while it requires registration at the Murphy Center, up to a dozen participants can get the help they need to keep their bicycles, often their only means of transportation, in good working order. The shop is open between three and five p.m. on the first Friday of each month.

Brewer has been a bike lover all his life—he has ridden them, sold them and served as his informal neighborhood bike mechanic. He started the program in 2016 as the sole mechanic for the program sponsored by Homeward Alliance. In those days there was no trailer equipped with tools and spare parts. He worked alone in those early days. He volunteered at Homeward Alliance doing any odd jobs that were required before he transitioned to working with bicycles, his first love.

Volunteers

Today he has a crew of 17 active volunteers who offer their services from one to several times a month. The mobile bike shop shows up regularly at Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park, FoCo Café, Harvest Farm in Wellington, Redtail Ponds housing development, and other spots around town that welcome the shop’s services. While they require registration at the Murphy Center site, anyone who needs work done on their bicycle can show up at the other locations to have repairs done free of charge with no questions asked.

Youngest of the volunteers, a 12-year-old Eli Strote, a student at Preston Middle School, showed up ready to go to work in the Murphy Center parking lot. He explained that he learned basic repair skills working on his own mountain bike.
“I’ve learned lots more working here,” he said.

Mike Schifferdecker, now 40, like Brewer has been a bike lover since he was a teen, selling, riding and repairing them and now giving back by serving as a volunteer mechanic.

The mobile shop has survived and grown because of grants and partnerships with organizations and businesses such as the Fort Collins Bike Coop, Recycled Cycles, and Road 34.

“Our greatest need is for volunteer mechanics,” Brewer said. Anyone who is interested can contact Brewer at (970) 387-8620 or at Bike@HomewardAlliance.org. See their website they also have a website: www.HomewardAlliance.org.

Homeward Alliance based at the Murphy Center has as their motto “survive, move forward, thrive.”

Brewer says that often, non-threatening contact with the mobile bike repair shop can be the catalyst for establishing a relationship with the Murphy Center leading to needed help. Brewer and his volunteer crew are making an important ongoing contribution toward achieving success and providing guidance for people seeking relief from homelessness and progress toward an independent lifestyle.

 

See Bike@HomewardAlliance.org for schedule. The shop will be open until October.

 

 

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