2 minutes reading time (482 words)

Riding New Chapters

The moment parents let go and watch their child ride away on two wheels for the first time, they realize the power of a bicycle. We often associate a bike with independence and our newest beneficiaries fully appreciate the importance of freedom and independence. 

We found Kahvil, Tariq, and Kevin through Free Minds Book Club. Free Minds Book Club is a life changing organization that delivers an outlet and develops a voice for incarcerated individuals within the DC jail and prison system. But the Free Minds Book Club & Writing workshop doesn't stop there, they continue working with their recently released members to connect them to resources and programs in the community to help them realize their personal, educational, and professional goals.

Juveniles who are sentenced as adults are at high risk of future violent criminal activity, but at the same time increased educational programs greatly reduce recidivism. This is where Free Minds steps in. Reading and writing is an activity that many incarcerated individuals take up or develop during their sentences. Free Minds Book Club builds on that by bringing them together to discuss ideas and opinions and expands that experience to work on violence prevention and workforce development. 

In addition to the weekly book club meeting, Free Minds offers extensive reentry services that are not offered on an individual basis within the prison system. Free Minds provides intensive, personalized support including help with job applications, connections to vocational programs and educational opportunities, personal skill building, access to credit building workshops, and so much more. They continue to help Free Mind members connect to their purpose and the wider community even after leaving jail or prison.

This program was brought to our attention through long time volunteer Walter Mulbry who helped provide books to Free Minds. Working with another volunteer, Les Cook, Walter was committed to finding a way to better serve Free Minds members through access to affordable transportation...bikes. As we continued to expand our local impact we were excited to be part of this opportunity.

Thanks to our volunteer mechanics who prepared the bikes, we delivered six donated bicycles earlier this year. The response has been overwhelming. Even more than simply transportation, the bikes are providing a healthy outlet during a particularly stressful time. We hope to deliver another batch of bikes to the program this fall.

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude for the heartfelt gesture from all the amazing people at your organization that gave us the bikes. Picking up my bike was an exciting time for me. Even at my age there's something magical about getting a bike that evokes thoughts of childhood freedom! Not having a car yet this bike has been so much more than just a joy ride, it has given me a sense of true freedom. I ride every chance I get and can't express my sincere thanks enough.

Tariq Herencia, Free Minds member and new bike owner
Creating a Hub to Support Small Business
Featured Volunteer: Kate Kidwell