2CB History Bike Clinic Lesson Trailer  Veteran 
Second Chance Bikes History
I am asked frequently enough how I got started doing this that I figure it is worth writing it down. Second Chance Bikes http://secondchancebikes.org was started in the Spring of 2017. I retired in November, 2016 and immediately signed up as a volunteer "Friendship Partner: with the World Relief refugee resettlement agency at their their largest local office, here in the western suburbs of Chicago. I was assigned to a newly-arrived Nepalese family.

Somehow I learned that WR could get the teens bicycles. The following Spring I pursued that. I got a referral form from their caseworker to get them bicycles from Working Bikes, an agency in Chicago that refurbishes donated/salvaged bicycles. They sell the good ones and ship most to Africa, where they provide critical transportation. WB ships them by the containerload. They have a program for providing free bikes to people in need - generally homeless people in the city, when referred by authorized agencies. So I got the paperwork done, waited a few weeks, got a message that they had bikes ready, and took the boys to get them.

Meanwhile, I had noticed bikes at the World Relief furniture storage facility and had asked the donations coordinator what was the deal with them. He said they got donations of bikes along with the household goods and furnishings, but they were rarely in working order so they usually just put them in the scrap metal bin along with defective lamps and other items people had "donated" to get a tax deduction for something they should have thrown away. I've learned that happens a lot. But I love working on bicycles, been doing it since I was six, so I told him "let me take a couple home and see what I can do with them."

So when we went to Working Bikes to pick up the bikes for my two Nepalese youths, I had by that time gathered 4 or 5 in my garage to fix. When the WB folks rolled out two I saw my guys' faces fall (they had been admiring the $1000+ bikes in the showroom for sale for $300-$400 and I guess expected a lower-quality version for them (as did I). I told them "hey, I've got a couple mountain bikes in my garage I can fix for you; we told WB thanks but no thanks and headed home. So I got them rolling, fixed several more for WR, and, having seen WB's operation, decided I could mimic it on a much smaller scale.

I approached WR for funding for parts and accessories but their 501(c)(3) charter is understandably strict on how they can spend money. They told me to raise it myself. So I named my operation, bought a domain name, built a website, ordered business cards and magnet signs for my truck. I arranged for people to donate cash via Paypal, parts and accessories via Amazon wish list. I started hearing from other agencies that had needs for bikes or bike repairs. I had occasion to take someone to an overnight homeless shelter in a local church and noticed a couple of bikes outside in terrible condition. I offered to the volunteer checking people in that I could fix the loose handlebars on one parked by his table; he called the owner over and she agreed for me to do so. One good allen wrench twist and she was ecstatic. I gave the volunteer some of my business cards and started getting calls "hello, my name is ___; the guy at the shelter said you might be able...". Then I started getting calls "so-and-so said you got him a bike and might be able..." In 2019 I delivered 110 bikes, about half to clients of the “preventing homelessness” organization, the rest to clients of several other organizations and the refugee agency clients. In 2020 it was slower due to COVID-19; I delivered about 50. Response from people donating bikes, accessories, and cash has been terrific. I stopped the cash donations via Paypal when tax law changed and I was going to be taxed on it. I set up a Zelle account and provide instructions on the website. I suppose I could use part of the contributions to pay the tax but in reality I spend it all and a good bit more from my IRA and it annoyed me that billionaires got a tax cut and my 2-bit non profit activity would be taxed.