The Miracle of the Bicycles

“The Miracle of the Bikes”

In July of 2011 United Way got a call from the Georgia Pacific Mill at Wauna from Kristi Ward, Public Relations Officer.  “Would we have any use for some old (maybe 40 years) commercial bikes that had been used by individuals to get around the mill site, they were being written off and would be junked if no one wanted them.”  We checked with our agencies, they requested 49 for distribution to various clients who could use them.

The long and short of it is that we went ahead and organized the transfer (not a simple project).

A group US Coast Guard volunteers took their own vehicles to Wauna Mill and brought around 65 bikes to “Bikes and Beyond” in Astoria. Owner Scott Lee had agreed to store them and suggested we have a triage clinic to verify they were okay to use.
Again, volunteers, Scouts, U.S. Coast Guard members and others checked them out, scavenged parts from some to fix others and set aside a few that weren’t usable.

Now, after getting signed releases, they were ready for distribution. There were some very excited young people who came to collect a bike. Scott Lee told us that he was very touched when one youngster whose family and agency representative arrived to select a bike.

It was a very important event for the youth who were excited, eager, and thrilled. The bike meant a lot and was going to make the upcoming family vacation special. A Small Miracle for this youth.

Communication is always tricky and after most had picked up their requested bikes, Karen Gill of the Boy Scouts came to collect those she had asked for to distribute to a variety of scouts. Thinking everyone had already got theirs she loaded up all that were left, including some rejects that were not useable.

Well afterward, she learned there were several promised to others that she had taken. She made arrangements to get them to those who needed them immediately, but she made an offer to WRC to have the three they were to get rehabbed as a scout project. They accepted.


The Boy Scout Troup 839 lead by Gary Tarranova started to work. First they arranged to get the bikes paint removed, recruited donated supplies from local business to work on them and worked on getting them ready. Finally they were ready and the tale continues:

“There was awkwardness in the gym that rainy night in February. The Boy Scouts of Seaside Troop 839 had gathered to present re-furbished bicycles to some ladies they didn’t know for an organization they didn’t really know much about. A photographer had come. There was a lot of formality as the “right” pictures were taken with the “right” people shaking hands etc. so that the event could be remembered.

But why, I’m sure many of them wondered, was all of this so important? Why such a
lot of ceremony re: 3 “fixed up” bikes. Sensing the awkwardness of the situation, Pat Burness, director of the Women’s Resource Center in Astoria, was asked to share something about where these bicycles were going.

As she began telling the Boy Scouts about the Hutchens House in Astoria and the
families that lived there the awkwardness started going away. The boys drew closer to hear about youth right here in Clatsop County who had witnessed the abuse of one of their parents by the other parent in their homes. They heard about how these youth were then told they would have to leave their homes and go to a shelter. At the shelter each
family would occupy one room. They would cook and eat and do homework with other families in the shelter. Pat told the Boy Scouts that it was hard for these youth. They were away from their home. They were separated from the abusing parent, whom in most cases, they still loved.

She then told the scouts about the miracle of the bicycles. Pat told about a meeting she had attended the week previous with the families of the Hutchens House. The request she heard “could we please have a bicycle to ride? We could go over to the River Walk with our Mom’s and ride like “other” kids. “

The scouts then were told how they were a part of a miracle. They had worked all winter taking apart bicycles, finding the good parts, painting and putting the bikes together
again. The scouts heard that these bicycles would take these families to Safeway where they could buy popcorn or ice cream and come back and watch a movie and feel
“normal” for an hour and a half at least.

The scouts were then told about the United Way. They heard about how this organization that many of their parents donated to through their work every year reached out into the community to help all people. It helped the Boy Scouts have the kind of trained leaders that could recognize a service opportunity, like the bicycles, when it came along.
It helped the community support a shelter for others who needed a safe place. And on that rainy night in February it helped two of those organizations come together in a “United Way” to make things better, not only for those served, but also for those who did the serving, in Clatsop County.

As Pat finished her sharing the circle of young men around her had grown close. The scouts were showing her where they had sanded, where they had painted, how they had helped with each of the bicycles. The awkwardness was gone. Scouting changes lives! Thank You to the United Way and all who worked with this project for helping that happen with a truckload of old used bicycles.”

The “story” as quoted above was written by Karen Gill and has become a marvelous
tale about a project pulled together by United Way. This was not part of the annual campaign nor was it a fundraising effort like” Iron Chef Goes Coastal” or “Lite Bite” .

It was simply an opportunity “To improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of Clatsop County communities”. A true implementation of our mission which bought joy to some lives in our community and a sense of accomplishment and a broader understanding to the Scouts of Troop 839.

END OF The Tale of: “The Miracle of the Bikes”

Written by Darlene Felkins Executive Director, Quotation attribution, by Karen Gill

Community Support Throughout the Year

United Way of Clatsop County has expanded its efforts in the community beyond the fall campaign.  In addition to this annual campaign there are special event fundraisers.. One is “Lite Bite” on March 6, 2012 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Baked Alaska with ten restaurants participating: Baked Alaska, Wayfarer, The Depot, Bridgewater Bistro, Lumberyard, Stephanie’s Inn, Newmans 988, Bistro, 42nd Street, and Fishes, all who are volunteering a wide range of appetizers to sample. In addition to this they will also be raise funding with the “Iron Chef goes Coastal” on November 13, 2012 in the Seaside Convention Center.  These events should bring in and additional $50,000 for distribution in the next allocation.

The success of these special events during this time of economic downturn enables UWCC to maintain the same level of support to the dozen agencies that provide services within our communities.  On February 9th 2012 United Way of Clatsop County Board of Directors met and budgeted the 2011 – 2012 Campaign funds of  $253,628. As the allocation hearing was convening U. S Bank representatives arrived with a large check for $7,500.00. (See photo)  This was a grant from the U. S. Bank Foundation and is included in the funds available to allocate.

The bank representatives; Cindy Johnson, Regional Manager, Johnathan Murry, and Zollner Griffin while presenting the check to United Way noted that U. S. Bank has been a long time supporter of United Way and encouraged others to participate with continuing support of UWCC and their mission to improve lives in Clatsop County.

This was the final major donation from the 2011 Campaign.  By the end of the day the board finalized a budget distributing the 2011 Campaign funds.

The first distribution will occur at the UWCC Annual Meeting scheduled on March 20th, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p m. in the Coho Room, which was donated by the CMH for the recognition of extraordinary efforts of volunteers who aided UWCC’s annual fundraising efforts.

As the volunteer board deliberated over the distribution of 2011 funds they received word that the new O’Rielly’s Auto Parts store in Warrenton wanted to give $200 to UWCC the first donation for the 2012 campaign. This new business has 3,613 stores in 39 states, O’Reilly’s grand opening was scheduled the following Saturday (see photo) and included a check presentation of the corporate contribution.  Local manager Pat Hughes says that their culture of excellence in the stores across the nation includes strong support and in-house campaigns for United Way.