Featured Volunteer: Tom Doyle
What I Did On My Summer Vacation, By Tom Doyle.
We would ask Tom to submit this essay, but as a teacher we know his summer time is precious. It's true what they say, teachers work 10 months a year and then have the summer 'off', but do they really? Some teachers have summer jobs just to make ends meet. Some are busy scheduling things that can't be done during the school year, including medical appointments. Nearly all, are busy planning for next school year, working on personal development, trying to reset, refresh, and of course revamp their class syllabus. Not exactly ALL personal time.
Tom Doyle is an art teacher at Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart. He's also a Social Action mentor. He's been connected to the Social Action crew that visits Bikes for the World twice a month for 7 years now. We started working with Stone Ridge back in 2011. Then it was just Ken Woodard, solo mentor, along with two girls. With the addition of Tom, we've been able to grow the program to include up to 14 students and they managed to stick with us through multiple warehouse moves, including our stint (above and below) working out of the back of a cramped bike shop!
As an artist, Tom is used to creating things and working with his hands. Since he was a boy he's been a tinkerer of things, which is maybe why he's such a great fit at Bikes for the World. Maybe. What he's really good at is working with the girls. Both Tom and Ken are extremely talented at guiding the girls through a complex activity, like stripping a bicycle of all of its parts.
Having this dynamic duo with us in the shop is truly what has allowed us to open this activity to a larger group of students at Stone Ridge. Tom helps keep the girls on task while having fun and transforming our pile of junk bikes into a bigger pile of good usable parts for our overseas mechanics. When we first starting working with Stone Ridge, we simply had them loading containers. Now they do that, AND rescue parts and break down wheels. This has added value to their service hours with us and absolutely improved the quality of our shipments to our partners. Ken and Tom are a big reason for how this is possible.
This year (thank you Rockville warehouse), we have the added bonus of having BOTH guys with us during their summer vacation. On several Thursday evenings both Tom and Ken have dropped in to lend a hand in the shop. And they are still teaching. Lately, a couple Stone Ridge alums have dropped in and the guys have been working with them, just like they do during Social Action. A teacher's job is never done.
Just last month, we found ourselves shorthanded for a loading and guess who swooped in to help, Tom of course. So we don't know what's he's doing on his entire summer vacation, but we sure do appreciate the effort he's already put in at Bikes for the World. And of course we are already looking forward to the 2022/23 school year.
By the way, at Bikes for the World, we know teachers work much longer than 10 months a year and we appreciate you! To you Mr. Tom Doyle, Ken Woodward, and all the other teachers out there we work with or don't, thank you for giving your all to our kids. For teaching them, guiding them, counseling them...it's been a challenging few years and we see you. You have earned your summer vacation and we know it's not enough.