Written by Gayle Starling-Melvin
Before you decide to put your old bicycle out to pasture, consider another alternative. Your bike could be rescued!
Pedals for Progress (PfP), a non-profit corporation comprised of two full-time and two part-time workers along with volunteers from more than 200 U.S. community organizations, has saved thousands of used bikes from a certain death in America's landfills by giving these old friends of transit new homes and usefulness overseas.
The objective of PfP is to collect and dismantle, for shipping purposes, donated bikes. These bikes are shipped overseas to low-income workers and students and used as transportation for those needing to get to and from work, school or medical appointments. Since the bicycles require maintenance once they've reached their owners, individuals are taught business management skills by agencies such as the Peace Corps and the Rotary Club.
David Schweidenback, found-er and president of PfP and a recipient of the Sargent Shriver award for International and Humanitarian Service, has always been interested in helping the poor. A former member of the Peace Corps, Schweidenback says, "Bikes are available and environmentally sound. They help the standard of living of the Third World poor. In short, bikes work."
UCC churches that have participated with PfP include Little River UCC, Annandale, Va ; United Church of Christ, Medina, Ohio; Bethany UCC, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; and St. John's UCC, Riegelsville, Pa.
Since PfP began in 1991, 50,460 bicycles and more than $8 million in new spare parts have been donated to 13 countries.
For information about PfP, drop by their website at www.p4p.org or call 908-638-4811.