Helping the Homeless – One Bike At a Time

By Stan Friedman

GRANITE BAY, CA (June 4, 2012) – Shawn Holiday is the unlikely founder of a ministry that provides bikes to the homeless – a ministry that also is on the verge of developing national affiliates.

When Holiday was a boy, he would hang out at his father’s auto shop, which was located across the street from a homeless shelter. “I use to throw rocks at the homeless,” he says.

He also didn’t concern himself with the problems of anyone else. “I never served anybody in my life,” Holiday states.

His world changed in 2005, when he gave his life to Christ at Bayside of Granite Bay, an Evangelical Covenant Church congregation. He began working with the church’s homeless ministry.

He founded Cycles 4 Hope after seeing how a bicycle could help the homeless get themselves to shelter, food, medical appointments, and jobs. Even more important, Holiday says, the bikes can bring hope and joy.

Holiday, who works in marketing at Intel Corporation, didn’t intend to start a ministry. He just wanted to fix one person’s bike. That was June 4, 2008. He went to the homeless shelter with his tools to fix the one bicycle. Other people saw him and offered to help if he returned to fix more bikes.

The number of volunteers and the people they help has grown exponentially. Cycle 4 Hope, now a 501(c) 3 organization, has given away well in excess of 2,000 bikes since its founding. It hopes to hit 3,000 by the end of this year. Click here to hear how a donated bicycle changed one man’s life.

Four times a month, volunteers gather for Wrench Night, when they transform donated bikes “from wrecks to riders.” On the second Saturday of every month, the volunteers pack the bikes and supplies into the ministry’s trailer and head downtown. Click here to see additional photos.

By the time they arrive shortly before 8 a.m., a long line already has formed with people needing bikes repaired or hoping to receive a bike. Each day, the ministry hands out tickets to the homeless in line and then raffles 10 to 20 bikes.

The ministry also gives away numerous bikes to other organizations such as a ministry to women and children at risk of homelessness and abuse, as well as a kids camp operated by the Firefighters Burn Institute.

Not all of the volunteers can help with repairs on Wrench Night, so Cycles 4 Hope started its Adopt-A-Bike program. Volunteers take bikes home with them and then clean, repair and prepare bikes on their schedule. They return the bikes within 10 days.

Although many of the volunteers are from the Bayside church, they include people of different religious traditions as well as atheists. One of the board members is a Buddhist.
Some volunteers have wound up attending Bayside, but Holiday adds, “There are volunteers who have never heard of Bayside.”

The ministry has caught the attention of people across the country and even internationally. The leader of a ministry in Phoenix, Arizona, started a similar outreach after hearing Holiday interviewed on a radio program. Another person who heard the same interview called Holiday from London, England.

Other unforeseen “partnerships” already have formed. One man in a transitional shelter, who was preparing to move into his own home, has become a liaison to the homeless. A group of inmates at Folsom Prison also repairs bikes and gives them to Cycles 4 Hope.

Cycles 4 Hope is funded through donations. It plans to open a nonprofit shop within the next several months that will sell bikes and use the revenue to help fund the ministry.

Holiday hopes other churches and organizations will consider starting a similar ministry. “You just start with one person and one bike,” he says, adding, “You have to have a heart for service.”

6 adult bikes donated from Firefighters Burn Institute. Cycles 4 Hope had donated other bikes to the institute’s kids camp.

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