A new program at our men’s homeless shelter, Ozanam Inn, is not only helping to motivate men – but to keep them mobile as well. Free bicycles are offered as an incentive to men staying at the shelter as a reward for completing certain tasks or working toward goals that help move them toward self-sufficiency.
Late last year when Harrison Swadley (above, left), a case managerat the shelter, learned about a Northeast Christian Church outreach program to collect donated bicycles and distribute them to local charities and organizations, he initiated a partnership between them and St. Vincent de Paul.
As a result, Mark Doll, the bikes program coordinator at Northeast, has delivered more than 45 donated bicycles to our men’s shelter in recent months. (Related: Bikes By the Numbers)
Swadley and the staff encourage men who want a bike to do volunteer work here – such as washing dishes in the Open Hand Kitchen – or to meet other personal goals identified in their individual case management plans.
When the client has successfully volunteered or reached a milestone, Swadley offers to let that person choose his own bicycle from the basement store room where the bikes are kept.
So far, 45 bicycles have been donated to the men’s shelter, and 17 additional bikes have been designated for children who live in SVDP’s supportive housing. The bike program has been a huge hit with homeless shelter clients such as Todd, who was all smiles the day Swadley took him to pick out his “new” bike. “It’sa blessing,” Todd (above, right) said, explaining that now he will have flexible transportation to and from his job, and that he will no longer have to rely solely on the bus.
Working and earning a paycheck while he stays at our overnight emergency shelter will allow Todd (and other men like him) to save money so that he can eventually move out of the St. Vincent de Paul campus and into his own apartment or house.
In addition to the generosity of Northeast Christian Church in sharing the bicycles with us, another donation has helped spur the success of the initiative: Paul (who wants to be identified only by his first name), a long-time volunteer at Ozanam Inn men’s shelter, purchased 30 new bicycle locks so that each man who earns a bike also receives a brand-new bike lock to keep it secured.
Additional bike locks (of any kind, not only U-shaped locks) are still needed, Swadley says.To help, contact him at 502-584-2480, ext.224; firstname.lastname@example.org.