Bikes for the World is blessed with an amazing crew of volunteers who champion our mission at school, work, home...sometimes to strangers they meet on Metro. The reason we are able to affect the great number of lives we do around the world is because of our huge volunteer network. Many of our volunteers have been with us for years, even decades. Some times when they retire we even get to see more of them.
And sometimes we don't. Ellen Condon has been with Bikes for the World for over a decade. She has helped us collect bikes, promoted our cause to the bikers at NIH (where she worked) and even lent us her truck from time to time when Yvette had too many bikes to transport.
But as of last week Ellen retired from NIH and is getting ready to move out of state. While she will no longer be dropping bikes by the warehouse, she will no doubt continue to follow our progress online. But we sure will miss her around here.
Just this past summer Ellen helped put us in touch with the NIH Police Department which had collected over 40 abandoned bikes on campus. They recognized these bikes could be put to good use so they looked for an alternative to scrapping them. The NIH Police coordinated the effort with the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club, which Ellen was a member of, to get these bikes to Bikes for the World.
It's connections like this that have helped grow our organization over the years. Since Ellen found out about Bikes for the World we've nearly doubled our annual intake of bikes. It's our partnerships with bike shops, police departments, condo associations, universities, etc. that have really kept our organization rolling, especially in our slower collection months. This supply of bikes has allowed us to increase our number of donations per year and increase the number of partners we support around the globe. It's invaluable. And it's through dedicated volunteers like Ellen that we often 'find' these sources of bikes.
"I met Ellen, like I meet many of our volunteers for the first time, through email. That probably went on for a couple years until she needed to drop off a sewing machine and we realized we were practically neighbors. Now whenever I was overwhelmed with bikes in my yard I could just call Ellen and she came right over.
"Who doesn't like having a friend that owns a truck? You never know when you might need to move something. But how many truck owners will let you stack 20 bikes in the bed and then drive them cross town looking like the Beverly Hill Billies!?! That's Ellen," says Yvette Hess, Outreach Coordinator.
And Keith Oberg, Director remembers Ellen even further back, "Ellen was always such a cheerful, optimistic, and welcoming presence, whether at collections or at King Farm. She was a joy to work with and interact with other volunteers, she made the social aspect of Bikes for the World so much more positive. I went home smiling at the end of a day. Our loss is Michigan's gain!"