Featured Volunteer: Greg Pearson
Greg Pearson has been popping in and out of the warehouse now for a bunch of years; no one is really sure when he got started. And just the other day we were scratching our heads (him included) trying to remember how he landed here. Turns out it started in a coffee shop and despite what you might think, it doesn't involve Taylor.
Greg recalls a guy he ran into a couple times in his neighborhood coffee shop and during one of those interactions he mentioned Bikes for the World. Greg was retired and looking for somewhere to volunteer AND he was an avid biker so this piqued his interest. The guy, was Glenn. So Greg put this conversation in his back pocket, and lucky us, he pulled it back out to investigate.
Greg started out in the shop with the other retired guys, mostly pulling parts off marginal bikes. Greg liked being around bikes and working with his hands so it was a natural fit. In fact, not long after he started volunteering with us, he ended up working for the Trek shop not far away. At his paying gig, Greg is actually putting bikes together out of the box. But when he's feeling a little destructive, he drops by the warehouse to take them apart.
More recently Greg took us up on a offer to help mentor kids and boy oh boy has this been helpful. This spring we have had school groups scheduled in the shop every week, sometimes two in one day! We started doing more mechanical work with students to give them a more rewarding experience. It's much harder to manage, but with volunteer mentors, like Greg, it's totally doable. And the parts we save really help our mechanics on the other end.
Turns out Greg has a little experience in this mentoring area. He used to volunteer in the DC school system more than 30 years ago. He started out when his kids were in elementary school and continued to help the kids write and illustrate storybooks. Our work is a little different, but working with kids the same. It takes a little skill and patience and Greg has it.
Having him around the benches to work directly with the kids helps keep them safe and makes their work more productive for us. He can answer their questions and offer solutions to some of their problems working around rusty parts. It also frees up Todd so he can bounce around to all the work stands and keep everyone on track and in line.
Now the school year is winding down you might think there will be less need for Greg's mentoring expertise around the warehouse. WRONG. We have a ton of summer camps lined up already, and those typically come with more kids and more time...so an even greater need for an extra hand. We just have to compete with Greg's summer plans, which no doubt involve bikes. We just need to catch him in between peaks.
Volunteering to work with kids comes with its own challenges, but it sounds like Greg embraces challenge...you only have to look as far as his bike rides. As an avid cyclist Greg definitely likes to put some time in the saddle and one of his most challenging rides was the Assault on Mt. Mitchell, which celebrates the completion of a century ride with a grueling 30 mile climb at the end. His goal is to some day tackle some of the climbs on the Tour de France. For now he'll just tackle our mountain of bikes to be harvested for parts.