"I first met Linda Hansen maybe seven years ago when I first started working with Bikes for the World. That was four offices and six warehouses ago. I guess maybe we've both been around for a while," remembers Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess.
BUT, Linda predates BfW staff by just as many years. In fact she predates Bikes for the World itself! Linda and Keith started working together in 1997 back when we were working with Pedals for Progress.
She and Muriel Grim got together and started brain storming on their first ever bike collection with St Mary of Sorrows and its community. That was maybe 2,000 bikes ago.
For Linda, it didn't make sense to keep this tucked away within the pews of St. Mary's. It takes a village and she intended to reach out across parishes to recruit the village. Throughout the years they brought together Burke Presbyterian, Accotink Unitarian Universalist, Lord of Life Lutheran, and St. George's Methodist to work on this common vision. Her mission was simple: people helping people.
Linda also recruited other collection managers to take over for her after her initial efforts. And when I say initial, I'm talking half a decade or more as collection manager. This is one of the critical parts of keeping a successful collection going. Not only recruiting dedicated volunteers but also moving them into the management position. Not passing the torch successfully has been the undoing for several of our long standing collections that have been with us since the beginning. Finding someone to take over as collection manager is key to keeping a collection point alive.
And Linda made that transition seamless. This doesn't mean she moved on, she is still very much involved in this annual collection at St Mary's; she just prefers to hang in the shadows. And here we are shining a spotlight on her!
"But going back to when I first met Linda...I had just come on as Office Manager and Linda needed something from us. She said, I'll be right over. And when I came out to meet her she instantly grabbed me and gave me a huge hug. That's just who she is. And no doubt, that's why she's been able to keep that amazing cast of characters around the collection all these years."
Over the years St Mary's remained a consistent supporter of Bikes for the World, both in bike donations and financially. Their support has allowed us to affect thousands of lives around the world. Linda tells us it's really a win-win relationship; nobody really capitalizes it's just true giving and sharing.