Three Afghani teenagers who picked up bikes earlier this year.
Whee! I had no idea it was so much fun! That is what my daughter cried out the first time she learned to ride a bicycle! While that may not be quite the experience of everyone who learns to ride a bike, it is for lots of people. However for many of our immigrant and refugee families, the bicycle becomes the primary mode of transportation. It proves to be particularly important for teenagers to get to school, soccer practice, a friend’s home, and running errands.
The Bike Connector has provided bicycles to several of the families in LexRAP’s network as well as to refugees in other nearby communities. This incredible organization in Lowell is dedicated to providing people, particularly children, with bicycles. Adults and students select a bike and make an appointment to return to fix the bike with a volunteer mechanic. Generally, there is inventory of ready bikes for children under the age of 10 but only a limited number of ready bikes for adults. Refugees and others newly arrived to the US, who cannot work on a bike themselves, can select a bike from the ready inventory or select a bike to be repaired to pick up at a later date. Located one block from Lowell High School makes for easy access after school. The high school kids are the main participants in the earn-your-bike program in which students work with trained mechanics to repair and tune-up the bikes. The children are provided a bicycle that fits them, along with a safety helmet and a bike lock. The Bike Connector also holds “bike rodeos” at schools where they give bikes to all kids who need them and partner with Mass Bikes and Safe Routes to School, to train the children on bike safety. As Patty Grasso, a Board Member, shared, “We always hear at least once during these events from a kid who says “This is the best day ever.” Bikes can also be purchased at a greatly reduced price.
The Bike Connector was founded in 2021 by Wade Rubinstein. Located in downtown Lowell, it is a 100% volunteer-operated organization and is on track to donate close to 2000 bicycles this year. Funded by the Lowell School system, corporate grants and individual contributors. The shop is open Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday from 10am to 5pm. They collect bicycles from town collection sites and transfer stations as well as individual contributions. LexRAP is pleased to partner with The Bike Connector and thank them for their support to the families we serve. This is the address for their website: https://www.bikeconnector.org/
– Patty Grasso, Bike Connector Volunteer
Click here to see an inside-the-shop video of the Bike Connector produced by Channel Five’s “Chronicle” team.