Eugene Womack is looking for a job. "Trying to get a job, you know, and getting to places," he explained. "It's hard for me to walk."
He headed to the NRV Bike Kitchen. It opened this week inside Habitat for Humanity's ReStore in Christiansburg. Until now, volunteers worked in tents outside when the weather permitted to refurbish donated bicycles to distribute to people who needed them. "The demand is huge," said Director James Glass. "19% of the folks in the NRV are living at or below the poverty level. 6% of them are carless."
The Bike Kitchen was cooked up by a husband and wife team last year to get people from point A to B and beyond. "Connecting them with mass transit and them maps and other tools that they can use so they can really use the bike."
The program also helps open doors to a better way of living. "Getting to a better grocery store, not just getting to a convenience store. Getting to the bus stop faster so you don't have to get up so early in the morning" Glass explained.
For Eugene, having a working and reliable bike is almost unbelievable. "It means a lot," he said. "I can't even explain. It's a dream come true." It's a dream kept alive solely through volunteers working to make a difference.
The Bike Kitchen relies on donations of bikes or bike parts. They refurbished bikes are then sold to people like Eugene for $25 or less. Donations can be dropped off at the ReStore anytime. Glass says they're also looking for volunteers who will be trained if they don't already have knowledge of bike repair.