Clients from our Boys Recovery Lodge began exploring bicycle maintenance skills in October with Phoenix Bikes, a non-profit organization in Arlington, Virginia that educates youth, promotes bicycling, and builds community. Two-hour visits every Tuesday begin with warm greetings from enthusiastic instructors who love to empower young people to identify their strengths.
At a recent visit on November 24, seven clients from the Boys Recovery Lodge, including one Spanish-speaking client with his interpreter, cozied into the small, one-room repair shop that makes up the working space for Phoenix Bikes. Meg Rapelye-Goguen and Maddie Stein of Phoenix Bikes started off by introducing the boys to the philosophy and purpose of their program.
To get them warmed up with “shop talk,” the boys completed a worksheet of bike parts and tools to test their vocabulary. Stein explained to them that while one tool may go by different names in different shops, it’s important to be consistent with the Phoenix Bikes vocabulary so the job gets done more effectively. As they reviewed the answers to the bike tools pretest, they handled some of the tools. Two boys had previous experience working on cars so they felt comfortable with the tools and acted as leaders for the rest of the group. Stein then walked them through the process of changing a flat tire while quizzing them on their newly learned vocabulary. The boys broke into pairs to change a flat tire on their own. Without hesitation, they jumped in, searched for the hole, repaired it and began rebuilding the tire. They then stripped bikes for their parts that may be used to repair other bikes being brought into the shop. With a friendly competition to see who could complete the task most quickly, it was clear the boys enjoyed getting their hands dirty and worked very well with the staff at Phoenix Bikes. Rapelye-Goguen, Executive Director of Phoenix Bikes, was excited to host the group’s visit. “I’m very happy with how the boys jumped right in with enthusiasm and quickly mastered the Fix a Flat project,” she said. “We are very excited to be working with Phoenix House!”
As part of giving back to the community, Phoenix Bikes also has a Give-A-Bike program that allows children and adolescents in the program to refurbish a bike and donate it to a local individual or agency in need. At Phoenix House, there are times when a client is in need of transportation to their employment, medical appointments, or support group meetings. Henry Johnson, Program Manager of Independence House, was very grateful to receive a bike on behalf of current and future clients. The bike will be kept at the House and is available to any client in that program who may need it during their stay.
Phoenix House continues to strive to provide valuable and unique opportunities for their clients to identify and embrace sober fun. “This is a fantastic partnership with Phoenix Bikes and is a wonderful opportunity for youth to not only engage in while in treatment, but, if they live in the area, they can continue to be a part of the Phoenix Bikes community once they complete treatment,” shared Deborah Simpson Taylor, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic. It is wonderful to see community partners that are willing to go the extra mile to collaborate. Thank you, Phoenix Bikes!