How a bicycle-giving nonprofit impacts lives in need
Eric Mayle, the executive director of Centenary Community Ministries, talks about Re-Cycle Macon, a program that receives donations of bicycles and gives them to people in need of transportation for community service work.
MACON, Ga. (AP) — It's a 5-mile round trip to Coliseum Medical Centers, which overlook the Ocmulgee River and Interstate-16 in east Macon, from the Beall's Hill neighborhood.
Kelvin Hughes had to walk that route every day for his job at Coliseum. He couldn't ride the Macon Transit Authority buses because he had to be at work before the buses ran. Re-Cycle Macon offered him an alternative.
"The fact that he was able to have a bicycle and to ride to work — it tremendously cut down on his time in transit to his job and back," said Eric Mayle, executive director of Centenary Community Ministries. "It's a small thing, but it was a big help to him and his family, and so we were so glad that we were able to fill in that gap for him.
Re-Cycle Macon is a program provided by Centenary Community Ministries that receives donations of bicycles and gives them to people in need of transportation.
"We're getting old bicycles. We're fixing them up, and then we're giving them to people in the community in exchange for community service hours here with our organization," Mayle said.
To get the bicycles, participants in the program are required to complete service hours by doing work for Centenary, which is a nonprofit founded by Centenary United Methodist Church that focuses on developing sustainable communities.
Nancy Floyd received her bicycle on Jan. 15, along with Ulysses Veal, after finishing their service hours.
"Instead of having to walk everywhere, I'll be more mobile and can go a lot further than just my two legs can take me," Floyd said. "I love it. It's gonna go vroom vroom. This is my car."
Veal said Re-Cycle Macon is a great program for people who are not employed and need transportation.
"You feel able that you earned the bicycle instead of someone giving it to you," he said. "It'll be better than walkin', walkin', walkin', walkin'."
Mayle said Re-Cycle Macon started with a grant they won by being selected as one of 8 80 Cities Emerging Cities Champion. The Knight Foundation supports 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit that focuses on enhancing mobility and creating community in cities, through financial investments.
Mayle said Re-Cycle Macon recently received a renewable grant from the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to expand the program and create community between people with and without disabilities.
Mayle said they thought bicycles would be a helpful way to compliment the public transportation system already in place because people can put their bicycles on the front of the buses.
"We saw a bicycle as a helpful stopgap means of transportation to help them get from point A to point B," he said. "We want to help people in that way to access the services they need."
Re-Cycle Macon will have their first community meeting on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. in the church's fellowship hall. It will be an informational session about the program and how to get involved.
Mayle said it will be the first of monthly meet-ups with a Bike Tech mechanic, who will work to get bicycles ready to give away. Bike Tech, a bicycle store, partners with Re-Cycle Macon to repair damaged bikes.
"There's a lot of ways to get involved," Mayle said. "Even if you're not skilled as a mechanic, we need your help and your support, and we hope that people come out to the bicycle meet-ups and build community, make connections with people with a diverse cross section of our city and just meet someone that they've never met before."
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