Who's that masked fella? Oh, just your run of the mill Bikes for the World Superhero- Ron LaCoss. We are super excited to announce we welcomed back select volunteers this week, starting with our elite mechanics who work the day shift (we actually did a trial run with our Thursday night regulars last month). Ron jumped at the opportunity to get back in the warehouse and took our first open slot.
As you can see to Ron's right we've been missing this crew over the past three months. There's about a half dozen volunteers who were trained to recover usable parts from our unusable frames. This process has allowed us to increase our storage capacity and greatly improve our shipments. Ron and the team come in about once a week to rescue these valuable parts from bikes we can't ship (for example, frames that are broken). This also helps keep our spare parts wall stocked for the next shipment, when they will be packed into boxes and included in the containers so that the mechanics on the other end have good usable parts to repair the bikes we donate.
Right now new bikes and parts are hard to come by even here in the DC region. The current health crisis and public transportation shortage and/or scare has pushed more and more people to bikes. People are not only turning to bikes to commute but many are rediscovering their love of cycling while so many other activities have been closed over the past few months. With businesses being closed and ports affected by COVID-19 bike shops have simply had trouble restocking their shelves after one of the best seasons many of them have ever seen.
This shortage of stock is something that is not just unique to America, we are hearing similar stories from across the globe from all of our partners. As we start to load and ship containers again, these parts will be even more valuable than they were before. When we closed our warehouse in March we had plenty of parts ready to go, but without our usual crew in here working regularly we will soon feel supplies dwindling as well.
Getting Ron (and Walter, Frank, Jeff, and Walt) back in the warehouse is crucial to maintaining that supply of parts for our overseas mechanics. That and well, we just need a little moving room in that corner that seems to keep oozing bikes from the wall! And the guys are adjusting well to the new covid precautions we put in place, limiting volunteers, containing the tools they use for sanitation, and yes, wearing those dreaded hot masks in an un-air conditioned warehouse.
But all of them have been ready to come back for weeks. They realize the importance of their work with us and couldn't wait to return. Ron's not one to sit still and the shut down was no exception. Every time we checked in with him he was either out riding his bike or hiking some local trail. He even walks to the warehouse for his shift.
Ron's been with us longer than any of the current staff. He joined the team while he was a teacher at Landon School when he hosted a bike collection with students back before we were even known as Bikes for the World. That annual collection continued on after Ron retired and we lost touch for a minute....don't get me wrong, he still supported us but while we were in Virginia it was a little far for him to walk to volunteer. But as soon as we returned to Rockville, Ron was right back with us pulling bottom brackets and knocking out forks.
In more ways than one, it's great to have you back!