3 minutes reading time (655 words)

Featured Volunteer: Kate Kidwell

Kate Kidwell has been a familiar name around Bikes for the World headquarters for more than a decade now, but only a name without a face. Until social media! Kate has been involved with the Cumberland area bike collection since she moved to the area in the early 2000s, but given the 130 plus miles between us, we only saw her name on Facebook or in an occasional email. Mostly it was Phil Ruth who made the trek out there with the truck so it was years before we met face to face. 

But what an impact she has had regardless! Kate is part of the Western Maryland Wheelmen, the group who organizes and drives the bike collection every year. When we asked what Kate does for the event, the list covered half a page! Quite simply Kate does it all. She wields a pen at the receipt table, puts a wrench to the bikes, snaps photos, talks to donors, organizes the volunteers, picks up bikes, creates the spreadsheets, once she even had to dial 9-1-1.

There are so many smiles and stories that came out of the Cumberland area collection over the years it's hard to focus on any one. But of course the urgent call from Valerie, the collection manager, in 2016 stands out. 

It was the last year Phil made the trip out there in the truck before he moved away and the team in Cumberland noticed he wasn't quite 'Phil'. Kate being Kate, she recognized a potential problem and immediately called for an ambulance. And Phil being Phil, he of course refused treatment, but he still sat his butt down (in the truck) to rest. And somehow he roped the EMTs into loading the truck for us!

Back in 2014, Kate literally bailed us out of a jam when we sent a smaller rental truck to the event and then they overfilled it! She quickly mobilized and rented us a trailer to pull behind the Penske so we could transport all the bikes back to our warehouse in one trip. To be honest, it was really her fault...she did such a bang up job helping to advertising the event that they nearly doubled the number of bikes from the previous year :) And from then on Cumberland always got the bigger rental truck!

Kate is truly a gem, generous with her time, consistently stepping in to get the bike collection tasks done. She starts early, and keeps the Club on track to a successful event every year. She has been Valerie's right hand man woman leading this effort to outperform year after year. Several years ago Kate set out to focus on collecting more financial donations- and they did it. The past two years during the pandemic, the Club opted out of doing the annual collection and yet they still collected 170 bikes WITHOUT an advertised event. This speaks to the commitment from all the Western Maryland Wheelmen and we are thankful to have Kate, Valerie, and the entire crew on our team!

One of her early ideas was to make a stealth visit to Otterbein in Hagerstown to check out their operation, because she wanted to improve our system. Then came the dreaded spreadsheet! Seriously, Kate has made our collections more successful and efficient. And just as important: more fun than ever!

Valerie Van Hollen Cumberland area Collection Manager

Finding a volunteer as dedicated as Kate is the key to hosting a successful event year after year- it cannot fall on just the collection manager. Besides having a demanding job, which includes on-call hours, Kate has supported and cared for her immediate and extended family. She loves the outdoors, whether it's on a hike, in a kayak, or on her bike. And she also volunteers with Let's Beautify Cumberland and Habitat for Humanity. We don't know how she finds time for Bikes for the World but we are super glad she does!

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