More than 70 cyclists got a free bike tune-up this past April at Wheaton (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church. The church’s Cadet program, a character and faith formation group for boys, ran the tune-up morning for the second year in a row, hoping to offer something of value to their community.
“[On] our first attempt we weren't sure if anyone would show up, so a lot of us brought our own bikes to keep the boys busy,” said pastor Kyle Haack. “Instead, we had a great response with people lining up 30 minutes before we started and the last bike tuned up an hour [after we planned to finish].” The Cadets cadre of 11 boys in third through eighth grade plus nine counselors and three junior counselors worked to tune up the bikes on what turned out to be a snowy Saturday, April 27, morning.
Most people seeking tune-ups came from families in the church neighborhood, Wheaton College across the street and some even from 30 minutes away, thanks to Facebook posts of the event, said Haack and Rob Vandermeer, Wheaton Cadets’ head counselor.
The church’s fellowship committee offered coffee and cookies in the lower lobby while people were waiting for their bikes. Haack said this was an opportunity for hosts from the church to build relationships. Participants were grateful to get out of the weather while they waited, said Cadet counselor Keith Ellens.
“We did this as a community service opportunity,” said Vandermeer, noting that there is no badge that correlates directly to the activity. “We were not accepting donations; however, if anyone pressed us hard to accept, we were sending anything to Working Bikes in Chicago, Ill.”
The work was done in five stations in the church parking lot, with four experienced mechanics providing volunteer expertise in the final checks. Vandermeer said the stations included cleaning the chain, gears and derailleur; lubricating chain with fresh oil; inflating tires; general adjustments; and checking brakes, alignment and wheelwork.
Vandermeer said with two years of bike tune-ups completed successfully, they’ve decided to permanently add the event to the yearly calendar. He appreciates that in addition to offering something valuable to Wheaton’s cyclists, the hands-on experience teaches the Cadets mechanics, volunteering and community service.