After spending months training, 12-year-old Isaac Neven and his father, Jeff Neven, cycled 800 kilometers (497 miles) across eastern Canada last week on a tandem bike. The two are members of New Hope Christian Reformed Church, in Hamilton, Ontario. They cycled from Montreal, Quebec, to Campbellton, New Brunswick, from August 18 to 24 to fight homelessness in their own neighborhood. Together they have raised over $10,000 for Indwell (formerly Homestead Christian Care), which is constructing a new building in Hamilton’s east end. This building, projected for completion in October 2015, will provide 47 new, affordable apartments for those living on the streets or in substandard housing.
The ride was an exhausting but amazing experience for Isaac and Jeff. They rode with another cycling group, Love in Motion, meeting many new friends from across the country and hearing many remarkable stories. On Friday and Saturday, they were followed by CBC Television as part of The National’s “Own Summer,” a challenge for Canadians to try something they’ve never done before this summer. The segment Isaac’s Ride is expected to air in September.
For Isaac, this wasn’t just a fun opportunity but an important chance to help support the new housing project in his neighborhood. He interviewed a man named Gord to learn what he had experienced. “Gord had a super hard life. He started with no home but now he is in Indwell,” explained Isaac. “We need to help more people.”
On the fourth day of their ride, the Nevens learned that a young person on the waiting list for housing had died of an overdose, confirming the need to stop homelessness in Hamilton.
“As Christians, we must follow Christ in showing love and compassion to the most marginalized in our society. There must be permanent solutions like housing. There must be real hope,” said Jeff. “Isaac and I felt this urgency, and are happy that we could contribute something. We hope all Canadians feel the same way—because if we all care, we can end homelessness.”