Mayor Claudia Thomas presents award to Kiwanians Roger Laybourn and Rosemary Lewis.
Sixteen years ago Pepper Roberts had a few old bicycles into his Oakbrook garage that needed minor repairs. He went to his Kiwanis Club to see if there was interest in fixing the bicycles and giving them to deserving children. The Club agreed and the rest is history. The January recipient is the Clover Park Kiwanis Club for their Bicycles From Heaven Program.
Pepper turned over the responsibilities to Dave Sellars, and on most Saturdays you would find a group of Kiwanians setting around the back space of the All State Insurance building on Steilacoom Boulevard fixing bikes and eating pizza.
Lee Fowler, the next chairperson, saw a pile of bikes laying on a hill next to the Goodwill in Tacoma. He inquired and was told the bicycles were being discarded and were available. The numbers increased and the word got out & “If you have old bicycles, contact the Kiwanis Club.” Soon there were more bikes than fixers. About ten years ago Kiwanian Rosemary Lewis (who volunteers at McNeil Corrections Center) contacted Belinda Stewart at McNeil to see if there was interest in developing a program for inmates to repair old bicycles. Today McNeil has a Bike Shop in their vocational building where 10 & 15 inmates completely refurbish 20 to 30 bikes a month. The Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy and Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen have also started a similar program. The Kiwanis Club donates approximately $10,000 a year to cover parts and paint to the Corrections Centers. The yield is 100 bicycles a month that are given to such agencies as Caring for Kids, Boys and Girls Clubs of Pierce County, Lakewood Area Shelter, Family Resource Center and Communities In Schools.
Storage space has always been an issue and the Bicycles From Heaven have seen numerous locations & the red barn at Fort Steilacoom Park, a space in the Colonial Center (where the Great Cuisine of India is now located), a suite by the old Starbucks at Lakewood Mall, an area in the Puget Sound Pet Pavilion, the Old Safeway Store to where they are currently located at the Clover Park Technical College in the old commissary owned by the Clover Park School District.
According to current Chairperson, Roger Laybourn, “At one point 5 years ago over 3000 bicycles were stored at the Safeway building and yet another move caused some stressful moments. A man from Ghana heard about the program and stopped by. The bikes were loaded onto a container and shipped to his homeland where they serve as a major source of transportation.”
Clover Park Kiwanis are examples of Caring Adults and receives the traveling Red Wagon, a symbol of Lakewood’s Promise of people pulling their weight to help the youth in Lakewood. Lakewood’s Promise mission is to mobilize people from every sector of life in Lakewood to build the character and competence of our youth by fulfilling these Five Promises:
- Caring Adults & Provide ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors and coaches
- Safe Places & Provide safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
- Healthy Start & Provide all the elements leading to good physical/mental health for a healthy future
- Marketable Skills & Provide marketable skills through effective education
- Opportunities to Serve & Provide youth with opportunities to serve in their community
Lakewood’s Community Collaboration, made up of over 100 human service organizations, service clubs, businesses, individuals and public entities presents each month a “Caught In The Act & of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise” Award to an individual or organization that has quietly performed an outstanding deed for a family/child in the City of Lakewood.