Cycles 4 Hope Helping Homeless Ride Out of Poverty
Photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group
In 2013, a countywide report prepared by Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF)—an organization committed to helping the homeless obtain housing and economic stability—found more than 2,500 people living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and places not meant for human habitation.
Of that number, 432 were chronically homeless, 504 were victims of domestic violence, and nearly 1,000 were chronic substance abusers. Although sobering, SSF’s findings reflected a positive change. In 2013, total homelessness actually decreased by 9.4 percent compared to 2009.
For years, Shawn Holiday has dedicated himself to being part of that positive change. In June of 2008, Holiday spent a day among homeless men, women and children in downtown Sacramento and found himself overwhelmed by the harsh conditions they faced on a daily basis. The following month, he founded Cycles 4 Hope, a non-profit organization that helps homeless and low-income residents throughout the greater Sacramento area regain independence through donations of recycled and refurbished bicycles.
“Our bikes provide hope and joy by enabling people to enjoy a bike ride and get away from the situation they’re in,” Holiday explains. “Cycles 4 Hope has provided an opportunity to serve people in need and share my faith in Jesus Christ. I have always enjoyed riding and working on bicycles and love to serve people.”
Holiday says that in the past seven years, he and his fellow volunteers have serviced thousands of bikes during weekly “Wrench Nights.” Every Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m., volunteers gather at the Cycles 4 Hope shop on Auburn Folsom Road in Granite Bay to transform discarded bikes into life-changing vehicles.
Although basic repair experience is helpful, individuals of every skill level are encouraged to attend. Once a month, Holiday and his team make a trip downtown (tools and renewed bikes in tow) to offer free repair services and raffle off both new and refurbished bikes.
“Our mission is to give hope to the less fortunate in our community,” explains Phillip Kwong, an armature mechanic and Cycles 4 Hope volunteer. “The hope is in them as individuals that someone cares and is willing to take care of a specific need that they may have. We have done this over the years by helping maintain, for many of them, their primary mode of transportation.”
According to Kwong, some of their patrons line up as many as three hours in advance on Ahern Street near Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento for assistance. “One gentleman I talked with rides to Woodland on a regular basis,” he says. “Another uses their bike to go to rehab and [substance abuse] meetings.”
In the years to come, Holiday and Kwong both hope to see more people dedicate their spare time, talents and funds to combat homelessness.
“I’m a born tinkerer and a handyman,” Kwong shares. “Sure, we can use this skill for our own edification and that of our friends [and] family, but that is the extent. God gave us excess time [and] capability to benefit our fellow man. Cycles 4 Hope offers an outlet that such skills can be utilized as a gift to the community. The impact goes beyond my own personal network.”
-by Morgan Cásarez
For more information, visit cycles4hope.org.