Featured Volunteer: Mike Johnston
Mike Johnston is as much a fixture of the annual Otterbein United Methodist Church as Collection Manager Cindy Brown. Really, it's more accurate to call them co-managers. Cindy handles all the emails and communications with BfW, and Mike is out there collecting bikes all year long. It's this dynamic duo that really gets the wheel turning on this effort every year.
Otterbein United Methodist Church has been with us since before we were known as Bikes for the World. But since we started counting in 2005, we can confirm that the church group has collected and donated nearly 3,500 bikes to our program during those 14 years. The bike crew at Otterbein is indeed a well oiled machine. They need little direction from our staff, some of them have been around BfW longer than anyone on staff!
This year, Otterbein UM really stepped up and made a huge impact on our shipments by donating 200 bikes already in 2018. This was really made possible by one guy, Mike Johnston. M.S. Johnston is a local business with a little extra space and a love for what we do. They not only share a name with Mike, it's his family business, hence the willingness to help.
With that space available to store bikes throughout the year, Mike is able to meet donors at the precise time that they need to make room in their garages, basements, or sheds, and want to donate a bike without waiting until the last Saturday of April, when Otterbein UM holds their annual bike collection. Mike often even makes house calls!
This isn't the first year Mike has collected and stored bikes early. He usually arrives the day of the collection with a box truck full of more bikes. As if the 100 bikes donated within the first hour of the collection at the church isn't enough to keep the volunteers busy. It always keeps our Operations Manager on his toes as well, since he needs to make sure all those bike fit in our box truck.
Assuming April 28th (the day of the Otterbein collection) yields another 200 bikes, we are extremely fortunate that we were able to grab the 200 at M.S. Johnston already earlier this year...or they would not have all fit in the truck. Not that that hasn't happened before; Otterbein typically gets between 200-300 bikes every year, but one year they did top 400...and our biggest rental truck doesn't quite hold 300 bikes.
More importantly, is why we do what we do, our partners. This winter we increased the number of containers we shipped out of the warehouse and we were actually short bikes! We turned to Mike, and said, can we come grab some of those bikes you have in storage? We need them to send to send to Africa.
Mike was a perfect fit for this project from the beginning. He's a cycling enthusiast who is passionate about reusing and recycling. His connections to the cycling community have been instrumental in the success of this effort. Mike also involves many groups and individuals outside the Otterbein family who have helped this collection thrive.