Rotary’s ‘Spokes for Folks’ program passes $10,000

Posted:  Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 8:30am
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Boothbay Harbor Rotary’s drive to raise $25,000 to buy 100 new bicycles for summer workers without transportation passed $10,000 with a $500 donation from Linekin Bay Resort last week. The $10,000 bought the first shipment of 26 bikes which arrived here June 17 and were quickly assembled by Rotarians. The first person to receive a new bike was Rudi Crobler, who works at Spruce Point Inn this summer. Since 2006, the Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club has been providing free bicycles for international workers and all who need one in the Boothbay area. The need is very real as so many of these folks have no transportation available to them at all and their lodging can be miles from their workplace. To promote safety, the club works with the Boothbay Harbor Police Department to provide free bike reflectors and rules of the road, and with the YMCA to distribute free bike helmets to people who need one. The Rotary Club has refurbished 81 bicycles to distribute so far this year; 30 are used bikes that were refurbished from last year. 25 of them are used bikes that were donated this year and refurbished by a team of Rotarians, including Seth Hedgcock, Bob Jacobson, Doug Roberts, Henry Wyeth, and Skip Kreahling, among others.

The bike donation program was started in 2006 by Rotarian Seth Hedgcock, and each year, the demand for bikes has grown. Our area attracts summer workers, many from outside the U.S., from countries as far flung as Lithuania, Russia, China, Bulgaria and many others. Rotary club members and community volunteers have donated hundreds of hours in labor and many hundreds of dollars for parts each year to cobble together an adequate fleet of bikes to meet the demand. Local businesses and individuals have given direct donations to keep the program going. Two years ago, the program was able to provide 150 bikes to summer workers and local people who have no other means of transportation. But as of early 2015, there were only 30 serviceable bikes left. Many other bikes had rusted out, or had parts that were difficult to find and replace. And, some bikes simply disappeared at the end of the summer. Now, people who want to use the Rotary-provided free bikes pay a deposit at the beginning of the summer and receive their deposit back at the end of the season when the bike is returned in good condition.

Doug Roberts, owner of Oak Street Provisions, began to research the possibility of buying new, simpler, sturdy all aluminum bikes for the program. The “Spokes for Folks” fundraising program was born to raise $25,000 to procure up to 100 brand new bikes. Doug located a provider of aluminum bikes, but unfortunately that company went out of business before the order could be placed. Then he found a one-year old firm, Priority Bicycles, whose bikes are ideal for use in our salt-water climate. According to Doug, these all aluminum bikes are easy to peddle. In addition to being aluminum and therefore, rust-free, they have no chain, but use a rubber belt instead. They have only three gears. This leads to very low maintenance.

The Spokes for Folks program has raised about $6,000 of the $25,000 needed this summer. We are short about 30 new bikes, according to Doug Roberts. Donations can be made at https://www.crowdrise.com/spokesforfolks. The Rotary Club is also accepting checks made out to Boothbay Harbor Rotary Foundation, and marked in the note field: “Spokes For Folks”; mailed to the Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club at P.O. Box 518 Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538.

The Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so your donations are fully tax deductible. For more information about our club, please visit www.boothbayharborrotary.org

For more information on how you can help keep the wheels rolling this summer, contact Rotarian Doug Roberts at Oak Street Provisions or via phone (207) 615-2279.