Project Homeless Connect by Nicole
On Monday, May 23, volunteers and staff from the Bike Alliance of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Bike Walk Ambassadors staffed a tent as part of Project Homeless Connect to provide basic bicycle repair services and bicycle safety information to homeless and other disadvantaged people. Project Homeless Connect is a one-stop-shop of comprehensive support services for people experiencing homelessness, and thanks to these staff and volunteers, we were able to provide assistance with basic transportation needs. The main event was being held at the convention center, but we were able to set up a tent in a parking lot adjacent to the Convention Center and bring much-needed bike repair and education to Homeless Connect.
By far the greatest need was for basic bike repair services; we made many of the bicycles these people were riding much safer by fixing or adjusting brakes, educating people on the proper use of quick release wheels, and tightening parts that could fail. Additionally, we were able to give helmets to some people who did not have helmets. Many thanks for the much-needed corporate support for this event, including Freewheel Bike for access to important parts such as brake cables and to the Twin Cities’ own QBP for the generous donation of helmets.
It is hard to over-estimate the importance of a bicycle to someone who is homeless. As demonstrated by the work of Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles and other nonprofit organizations serving these populations, a bicycle can provide the basic transportation needed to get and keep a job, and that can help someone to begin rebuilding their life.
I was proud to be part of this event and hope that we are able to continue reaching out to all facets of the Twin Cities bicycling community. Several non-profits spoke with us and are interested in establishing an ongoing, monthly outreach program so keep an eye out for upcoming announcements.