Looking back by Mark Menesses, Corps Member CYSJ
4,118 miles: the final count on my odometer as the front wheel of my bike entered the Pacific Ocean. Just 79 days earlier I was delicately dipping my rear wheel in the Atlantic on the beach of Jacksonville, FL. All that time in between those two great bodies of water, a little thing called Bike and Build.
Bike & Build is a non-profit organization that organizes cross country bike trips to raise money and awareness for affordable housing issues in the US. Last summer, I was one of about 250 young people to bike from the Atlantic to the Pacific traveling across eight different routes. Prior to my departure I had to raise a minimum of $4,000, as did every participant. A majority of this money went to various affordable agencies we worked with along our route. Out of our 79 day journey, 16 days were build days in which we worked with various affordable housing agencies, similar to Habitat for Humanity. Our build sites were in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida, Mobile, Alabama, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Garland, Texas, Santa Fe and Farmington, New Mexico, and Ridgecrest and Delano, California.
Those 79 days are truly days I will never forget. With the company of 33 new friends, I was able to make it through any ride day, whether it was 115 miles through the Utah desert outrunning a thunderstorm, braving fierce rains climbing to the rim of the Grand Canyon, cruising through Zion canyon at 45 mph, or just taking it slow coming into the Big Easy. And while the scenery and company was irreplaceable, the families we met made the trip worth it. At our build sites, we were often able to speak with the future homeowners, the most memorable being a single father for whom getting a home was his single greatest chance at attaining normalcy for his family. Even the worst of days during Bike & Build are days I will never regret.
Looking forward by Kristin Cary, former Corps Member CYSJ
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to serve communities across the nation with United Way, AmeriCorps NCCC, and City Year. During my time with both United Way and AmeriCorps I was involved in rebuilding and restoring homes for under-privileged families. Additionally, through my work with City Year, I witnessed the direct impact that lack of adequate housing has on a student’s attitude, motivation, focus, and overall performance. These experiences have made me very conscious of the affordable housing crisis, and I’m eager to become part of the solution.
This summer I’ll be participating in Bike & Build, biking from Providence, RI to Seattle, WA (P2S) along with thirty other young adults. Along the way, we’ll be making scheduled stops to build homes and educate the communities we work in about the need for affordable housing. To learn more about this, check out my personal profile, the roster for P2S and our route by visiting http://www.bikeandbuild.org.
I would really appreciate your support in my cross-country Bike & Build endeavor. If you choose to donate, your contribution will be tax-deductible. You can make a contribution via credit card by visiting Bike & Build’s website. Click on Donate, select “Cary, Kristin (P2S)” under the drop-down menu and continue on with the instructions. Proceeds from the trip will be used to help fund young-adult driven affordable housing projects. Some well known examples of volunteer affordable housing organizations are Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together. Thank you in advance for your support!