Featured Volunteer: David Horn
"David's Here!" It's a proclamation shouted out whenever David enters the warehouse. It's a bit like "Norm" from Cheers, except David's not the type of guy who just sits at a bar drinking beer all day. In fact, he's the exact opposite of Norm Peterson.
David Horn wandered into the warehouse sometime last year and he's been hanging around ever since. He came with his Dad to donate some bikes they had rehabbed back to life and saw some of our volunteers working during that Thursday night volunteer session. A simple question of, how do we get involved with that, turned into something bigger and better for everyone.
David started by compacting bikes that were donated just like his. He really helped bail us out of some busy weeks making room in the warehouse, sometimes even as the next batch of bikes were being offloaded from the pickup. We opened up some Tuesday sessions during those busy months and David came sometimes twice a week. Then his old roommate Ivan also started coming with his family and there was a comfortable rhythm in the warehouse as bikes ebbed and flowed between truck and trailer. Bikes came in, the guys compacted them for shipping, they went out in containers, and we started all over again week after week.
David quickly showed his interest in mechanics and his patience for making things right. If he saw a bike coming off the truck that had a wheel or chain issue he immediately took the bike aside and readjusted everything so the bike rolled again. It's not something we ask our volunteers to do, but David enjoyed that tinkering and backed down from no challenge. Truth be told, it made our jobs easier when he made bikes roll freely again.
Turns out David has always been fascinated with mechanical things. He's been known to take apart bicycles, lawn mowers, vacuums, and various other things with moving parts. We have no doubt he got everything back together successfully and running again as well...although his dad didn't mention anything about cars, so maybe he does have a limit.
David is also a cyclist. He has some vision issues that cause him to struggle with balance so he's mostly been rolling on three wheels. He'd like to change that and learn to ride on two. This summer he bought a folding bike from us that was easier to get on and off and he's been working to master a bicycle.
On his recumbent trike, David likes to ride with his dad on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. He's also competed in the Special Olympics of Montgomery County and the State Games. Ironically, during last year's competition David had mechanical issues with his bike...which he couldn't address during the event because of race rules. He also participates in softball and snowshoeing...so yeah, he doesn't sit still much.
Given David's experience, and his desire to learn and tinker, we quickly moved him over to the shop where he helps strip parts from bikes. He's also occasionally assigned a bike that needs to have its wheel adjusted or chain reattached. While David likes the 'doing' part of our work, he also really gets the 'why'. He was able to come to the warehouse while Karim was visiting from our partner program in Sierra Leone. David liked hearing about how his work was directly helping individuals in Karim's community, especially the mechanics working on our bikes using the parts David rescues.
David continues to scour the recycle bins, looking for parts or frames to rebuild at home with his dad. And he's always asking if we have more hours for him in the shop. He hopes to expand on his mechanical skills and find work nearby where he can make a career out of rebuilding or fixing things with his hands. For now, we are thrilled to have him in the shop!