Featured Volunteer: Pete & Ellen Berty
Pete and Ellen Berty will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary next year...with Bikes for the World! They are members of a distinct crew that have been around since the official start of BfW. And they have been there through it all with us, they have helped load containers, stuff envelopes, sell t-shirts, fill out receipts, and compact bikes in a cold rain or blazing hot sun.
It's hard to believe that we haven't featured them before. It could be in part, our move back to Rockville or their recent family addition of adorable twin granddaughters that keep them busy and away from BfW. The Bertys were a godsend to Yvette when she started with BfW...if we needed support during a fair or festival...they were there! Pete was great with the bikes and Ellen's personality wouldn't allow anyone to pass by our table without learning more about Bikes for the World.
For those collections that are part of a bigger event, that typically have no set collection manager in charge, the Bertys were always game to help. They routinely helped out at Fair Lakes and Arlington's annual E-Care event. And you might assume the Arlington connection is what got them involved initially. In fact, if you scan through Keith's vacation photos you'll find many of him and his wife standing alongside Pete and Ellen, but these double dates didn't originate in Arlington. They didn't even begin as double dates.
Keith recalls meeting Pete and Ellen at a collection in Severna Park of all places. This seems like an unlikely meeting spot for fellow Arlingtonians to congregate; I mean Annapolis must feel like another solar system to Northern Virginians. But Ellen's sister Ann and her husband Mike lived in Severna Park and they were hosting a bike collection, which brought everyone together. This semi-annual event would take place at Pedal Pushers bike shop right along the B & A Trail and be referred to as Ann Jackson & Friends...although the 'Friends' were more like family.
That first year Keith said they overwhelmed him with bikes, he actually had to make two trips. Back then our warehouse was in SW DC, at the old Waterside Mall so Keith was able to transport and unload the bikes quickly to get back for another load. Ann and Mike agreed to stay to help load him up even though Mike's band was playing in DC that night. Double dog tired, Keith actually made it home, showered and changed and surprised Pete, Ellen, and Ann on the dance floor later that night.
A bond had formed, unsurprisingly. Anyone who's met Ann or Ellen has surely fallen into their charismatic spell. And Keith exudes his own unique charm.The six of them, Pete & Ellen, Ann & Mike, and Keith and his wife Jessica would remain close friends, even vacationing often together...always on bikes. And Ann Jackson and Friends (especially Pete & Ellen) would continue to support and volunteer with BfW for decades.
Last winter, they unexpectedly (and quite quickly) lost Ann to cancer. It was a huge blow to this community of friends and family. Ann had been planning a collection that kept getting pushed back during the pandemic. Her husband, Mike wanted to continue the work Ann began with us back in 2005 in her memory. We will again be back out at Rod's shop next to the bike trail in Severna Park on June 24th with Ann Jackson's Friends and Family. Pete & Ellen have always made the trip out there for this event and will be there again this year to honor Ann. Throughout the years, they collected over 800 bikes at this site, mostly due to Ann's incredible outreach within the community. We invite you to donate a bike during the event if you can, if you don't have one, you can always contribute financially in honor of Ann's legacy.