Featured Volunteer: Jeff Saxe
As you can see Jeff doesn't just volunteer around bikes, he also rides them! That's sort of how we initially connected. Jeff was just dropping off a bike at a collection event over a decade ago, and here he is still hanging around!
Jeff Saxe fell in love with the Bikes for the World mission and he saw a valuable resource in his own back yard going to waste, literally. Jeff regularly went to the recycling center in Fairfax County, West Ox Road transfer facility. He saw bikes in the metal recycling and he thought, how do we get these to BfW?
So he tried rescuing them one by one when he saw them. But as you may know, recycling centers are pretty much a one way street when it comes to the public and recycling; you can drop items off, but you can't take anything back home.
More and more transfer stations have been partnering up with non-profits to put all those discarded items with use left in them...to better USE. They have bins, jersey walls, and fences to help corral certain items, like computers, TVs, clothing, and bikes! But this was long before West Ox was on board.
Many of our supporters noticed the same thing when they visited the recycling center. They would approach us, especially at the collection at REI in Fairfax, and ask why we weren't collecting bikes there. So Jeff and BfW Founder Keith Oberg went to work trying to secure permission to collect bikes at the transfer station in Fairfax County.
Eventually, Jeff met with the Director of Solid Waste and proposed the idea of setting bikes aside for Bikes for the World and he loved the idea. Since then, Jeff has been visiting the facility regularly to help organize the bikes that are just dropped in a heap by visitors recycling various items. While they do have an area just for bikes, it's incredibly helpful to our driver when Jeff is able to get over there and sort out what is left behind.
Most of the bikes donated at this facility are brought back to BfW and can be shipped as is to a partner overseas. And now that we have such a dedicated crew of mechanics working regularly in our warehouse we are able to take even more of the 'iffy' bikes and scavenge all the usable parts off them to also be included in the shipments. This work has more than doubled the amount of spare parts we have been able to donate to our partners for the mechanics working to get your old bikes back in working order.
Just last year BfW reclaimed 619 bikes from the West Ox Road transfer facility. We also collected another 324 bikes from the transfer station off I95. Between these two sites, we were able to fill two full containers to be donated in 2018. This is nearly 10% of what we shipped for the year. Clearly this effort has a huge impact on our local environment. It also has a big impact in our program locally where we are providing rewarding volunteer experiences for students, families, and individuals. Lastly, each bike we donate improves the lives of up to four people involved with one of our dozen global partner organizations.