Volunteer parties are back at Bikes Not Bombs – StreetsblogMASS

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This summer, Bikes Not Bombs, Jamaica Plain’s nonprofit bike shop, relaunched its weekly volunteer nights after a long hiatus during the pandemic.

Bikes Not Bombs, established in 1984, offers a wide range of programs around bike repair and job training for young people. Inside its headquarters in Jamaica Plain’s historic Haffenreffer Brewery building near the Stony Brook Orange Line station, Bikes Not Bombs has a sprawling, bustling workshop filled with donated bikes and parts, a retail and bicycle repair shops.

On the evening of our visit in late August, volunteers were helping Bikes Not Bombs staff clean and organize event equipment to prepare for its 35th annual Bike-A-Thon fundraiserheld on September 11.

But according to Andrew Ahern, the store’s community engagement coordinator, a more typical evening of volunteering would put people to work dealing with the organization’s huge inventory of used and donated bikes – either by helping dismantle the bikes recently donated up to the frame, sorting out used bikes, bike parts or tidying up the sprawling store.

The job requires no previous bike repair experience, but can serve as a good introduction for novices to gain some familiarity and experience with bike tools and parts.

And volunteers help Bikes Not Bombs staff focus on other important tasks like mentoring and supporting participants in their Youth programwhich trains local students as apprentices to give them the skills to work in a bike shop.

Young apprentices “could learn about customer service, inventory, online sales, stockpiling, repair and service,” says Sara Lawrence, director of people and culture at Bikes Not Bombs.

Older apprentices aged 18 and over can work as full-time paid mechanics in the Shop Bikes Not Bombs, which offers bicycle retail and repair services to the general public. Several apprentices were working on bikes during the volunteer night (pictured above).

But apprentices also learn other skills that aim to make them leaders in their communities.

“Right now we have them doing campaign work and racial equity work that is going to help the organization as a whole,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence herself got her start in the Bikes Not Bombs youth apprenticeship program in 2001, when she tried out the organization’s Win a Bike program as a sixth grader.

“It’s been a journey,” she says.

Outside, next to the bike shop loading dock, about 10 volunteers were put to work setting up pop-up tents and cleaning picnic coolers in preparation for the upcoming Bike-A-Thon.

“I live in the neighborhood and found out they were having a volunteer night, and I love bikes, so I’m here,” said volunteer Rani Schloss, who was at a volunteer night for the first time that night.

While cleaning a cooler with dish soap, Schloss told StreetsblogMASS that she had been involved in bike advocacy for several years, but was looking to get involved in something that could have “an impact more straightforward”.

“A lot of what I learned about cycling and bike maintenance came from relatively wealthy friends. Not everyone has this network, and therefore stores like Somerville Bike Kitchen and this place, I’m so glad they exist because we need them everywhere,” she said. “But the way Bikes Not Bombs is focusing specifically on young people who aren’t yet aware of these communities, and just actively trying to give more people access, I think is really crucial.”

Another first-time volunteer, Alexa Klein-Mayer, praised the “sense of radical politics” in the work of Bikes Not Bombs.

“I just believe in bikes in a particular way. So personally, after feeling quite empowered by having access to a bike and knowing how to work on my bike, I also see it in the way Bikes Not Bombs travels around the world. The focus on training, education and skill building is really great. »

Bikes Not Bombs volunteer parties are held most Wednesday evenings from 6-9 p.m. Pre-registration is required and slots are filling up fast – click here to register or find out more about the events.

Bikes not bombs retail store is open 5 days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, and Bikes Not Bombs YouTube Channel also offers an extensive library of how-to bike repair videos.

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