Having access to a bicycle, especially for many youths, provides a great amount of freedom and access. That is what a group of volunteers from Platteville will be delivering to New Orleans next week. Members of the Community Evangelical Free Church, along with the expertise of Tim Ingram, owner of Momentum Bikes and Boards in Platteville, will be responsible for shipping at least 15 refurbished bicycles to youth and adult members of the Castle Rock Community Church in New Orleans.
About 12 church members will be taking the bicycles Jan. 21 and will be returning Jan. 28. In addition to the special delivery, they will also be helping members of the Castle Rock Community Church renovate their new church facility. According to Merla Vacha, one of the organizers of the event, they hope to have the new facility open by May.
Platteville native, John Gerhardt serves as the executive director of Urban Impact Ministries in New Orleans, which operates the church. Gerhardt has been in New Orleans for more than 20 years.
The church group first took bicycles to New Orleans about four years ago following Hurricane Katrina. "It was super seeing them ride," said John Ambrosius, a Platteville church member who, along with his wife, will be traveling to New Orleans again. "They would ride up and down the street and have a huge smile on their face."
As Ingram receives old, busted bicycles he renovates them and turns then into workable treasures. "This is big for me," said Tim. "This is what I like to do."
Following the last shipment of bicycles, Ingram received numerous letters and pictures from the New Orleans youths thanking him.
"He (Ingram) does a great job," said Vacha.
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville as well as the Dodgeville Police Department and citizens have donated bicycles for the cause.
Anyone interested in donating a bicycle or the church renovation project, may do so through the Platteville church by calling 348-7330.
Editor's note: Anyone interested in learning more about Castle Rock Community Church, their renovation project and their bicycle program, go to www.youtube.com. Search "Castle Rock Community Church New Orleans." The top video should be the correct video.