NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A new initiative in Newport News is working to curb homelessness by providing bikes as a reliable source of transportation.
The Four Oaks Day Services and Training Center kicked off its “Bike Back to Work” initiative a couple of weeks ago after receiving some bike donations, according to Executive Director Quincy White.
“We wanted to make sure we came up with an initiative to utilize those bikes and we wanted to provide reliable transportation for our homeless patrons back and forth to work. That’s how the initiative started. Before we knew it, we were bringing in tons and tons of donations,” he said.
Quincy says the center is a one-stop-shop of resources for those who are homeless and has everything they need to get back on their feet.
“We see the difference we make in people’s lives every single day. We see new people come in. We try to connect with them as best as we can. It’s the impact we see every day that helps us come out,” he said.
They’ve already collected around 50 bikes in a variety of conditions.
White says in order to receive a bike, you must be experiencing street homelessness, use their services, and provide a W-9, so staff can check in with employers.
Those who receive bikes also must purchase their own locks.
White says volunteers and patrons, who use their services, have been fixing up the bikes to give away like Gregory Franklin.
“A lot of the bikes needed work on them and I looked at them. Some of them looked like they couldn’t be repaired and I repaired them, cleaned them up, and shined them up. Made the repairs they need,” he said. ” I made sure the bikes were safe before giving them out. That’s number one. I look at the face of people we give these bikes to and they’re elated. I love what I do.”
Franklin views the bikes through a lens of optimism despite some of their conditions in the same way the center views those who come in for help.
“A lot [of bikes] were in bad condition. I don’t see them in bad condition. I see them looking good and our patrons going to work on them,” he said.
While Franklin is repairing bikes, he’s also teaching volunteer and patron Skyler Rozell how to fix the bikes too.
Rozell came to the center about two months ago and says it’s been a blessing.
“I couldn’t ask for any better opportunity. I believe everyone should have the same help and opportunity this place has given me,” he said.
Rozell says he’s seen in the two weeks since the initiative started how it’s changed lives.
“I have seen people go from receiving their bike and taking it to work and [now] they were in their [own] place,” he said.
Rozell believes it’s a great program because it opens up additional opportunities.
“A lot of people worry about how close their job is-if they’ll be able to walk to work. The bike is the perfect way for them to broaden their options for more readily available jobs possibly further away from them,” he said.
Franklin also believes it will get more people hired especially at all of the businesses that have been looking to hire.
If you would like to donate, you can do so by dropping off bikes of any condition at the center any day of the week from 6 a.m. to 5 pm.
The center is located at 7401 Warwick Boulevard.
For more information, you can call (757) 975-5201.