“So, what do you do for a living?”
It’s a run of the mill question, that we all have our practiced response to. However, when you work for Wish for Wheels, you don’t provide a run of the mill answer.
“I give bikes and helmets to children in low income schools.”
I typically get one of two replies; stunned silence, or over the top excitement! “Really?? That’s a JOB? Cool!!!”
I realize though, that while my response definitely captures what Wish for Wheels as an organization does, it doesn’t quite capture what really goes in to building and giving these bikes away to those students in need.
We refer to our events as Build/Give events. A pretty straightforward term considering companies are assisting us in building and giving the bikes to children.
The initial stage of an event, is an interested company, meaning a company that is ready to provide the funding to buy, build, and gift bikes with Wish for Wheels. Once a member from our Business Development team has found a company that wants to partner with us, the responsibility then lies with the Build/Give Manager, Chris Webster, and Operations Administrator (me!) to begin planning the event.
Planning starts with a kick off call between Wish for Wheels and our partner company. After finalizing type of event, number of bikes, date, and signing all the paperwork, it’s time to start the numbers game of finding the perfect school or camp to donate the bikes to. Wish for Wheels prefers to give to an entire grade level (this can range from 30-100+ students). We search lists of Title 1 schools until we find the perfect match numbers wise. Once we find a school, the fun begins!
“Hi I am with Wish for Wheels a non-profit that gives bikes and helmets to Kindergarten to 2nd grade students, and we are interested in giving your kids bikes!” After reassuring the school representative that there isn’t a catch, and the bikes are already paid for, we are met with so much gratitude, disbelief, and excitement. These calls truly make my day. It’s a great, unique perk of my job to be able to deliver someone purely good news on a regular basis!
While I search for a school, Chris is busy making sure we have enough bikes, tools, and helmets. So much of what we do is a balancing act between having enough supplies, but not so much we can’t fit everything in the warehouse. Between the planning call, and the actual event there is constant communication between us and our clients. We want to make sure they are in the loop, and have a say where the bikes go. It is also very important to have the company’s employees accompany us to deliver the bikes, so we have to make sure scheduling with the school and with the company is seamless.
It is not until the day of the event that the physical labor starts. Chris spends mornings at the warehouse prepping our trucks, making sure there are enough bikes on the trucks for the company to build. This is not a job for the weak! Chris loads the bikes from the warehouse, drives to the location, unloads at the build location, assists our partners in building and checking the bikes, reloads the built bikes to transport to the school, and finally unloads the bikes for the students to ride! He has packing the truck down to a science with prepacked buckets of bike tools, pumps, and automatic drills.
No matter the different obstacles, successes, setbacks we may have in planning the event, one thing is always consistent and that is the smiles on EVERYONE’S faces after giving the bikes away. Chris has been planning and running events for over a year now, and the emotion, excitement, and joy never fades.
The actual Build/Give event is just a small part of what we do every day, but it’s the part that matters, and the part that sticks out. Saying “I do paperwork, planning, scheduling, calling, invoicing, ordering, driving, loading and unloading…” just doesn’t have the same effect as saying “I give bikes and helmets to kids.”