Bikesmart is a program offered by the Youth & Family Resource Network of Essex County, a non-profit organization aimed at strengthening families and youth across the region. YFRN has been around since 1994 and received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2011 to get the Bikesmart program off the ground.
This program has two main goals: providing youth in Kingsville and the surrounding municipalities with the opportunity to gain real-world work experience and hands-on job training, and also to supply affordable transportation options for those who cannot afford to buy a new bike or vehicle. They have a staff of young volunteers who are taught how to properly repair and maintain donated bicycles by an experienced mechanic. The bikes are then sold at reasonable prices to the community. They also run a repair shop where they can fix up your bike and help you maintain it and keep it running smoothly.
With help from people in the community, as well as their partners, they’ve already collected over 100 donated bicycles. Besides the Ontario Trillium Foundation, their partners include the Leamington OPP, the Salvation Army, and the Windsor/Essex Solid Waste Authority. They’re open to new partnerships, too, and also welcome public and private donations. All eligible contributions will receive an income tax receipt
There are a couple different ways you can contribute to the program. Volunteer in the program and either learn to fix bikes or, if you already have experience fixing bikes, help teach others. They’re also looking for donations of bikes, bike parts, safety gear and tools. Check out the program’s website to learn more about what items they need most.
Donations are accepted at any time and can be brought by the Bikesmart location in Kingsville, the Harrow Youth Centre, or a pickup can be arranged. Keep an eye out for upcoming bike drives scheduled across the county.
If you’re interested in helping out with this worthy and ambitious project, contact program coordinator Michael Cervi by emailing him, or visit the shop at 23 Mill St. W. in Kingsville.