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May. 18, 2022 | Wednesday
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Bikes for Farmworkers: Success creates need for more volunteers
Terry Weiner of Bikes for Farmworkers. (File Photo/Dariya Baiguzhiyeva)

Bikes for Farmworkers is looking for some help, and to give some help.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake organization, which provides refurbished bikes for migrant farmworkers, is having trouble keeping up with an increased demand, say founders Terry Weiner and Mark Gaudet — so they’re thinking of creative ways to solve the problem.

“BFF’s success has become known beyond Niagara-on-the-Lake,” says Weiner. “Demand for bicycles for migrant workers from areas outside of NOTL has increased and (we) simply cannot meet this demand.”

Weiner says group volunteers have a couple of creative solutions up their sleeves. The first is to not only seek, but train more volunteers within the community. The other is a start-up manual to assist other organizations that want to start similar programs in other areas.

An information about both topics will be held Wednesday Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Gateway Community Church, 1665 Four Mile Creek Road in Virgil (the former Virgil Public School), where BFF operates.

“Because of this increased workload and the steadily increasing demand for (our) services, additional help in refurbishing and repairing bicycles is needed. BFF would like to meet anyone who might be interested in assisting with this program and BFF will supply all the necessary tools and training for those wanting to participate.”

Weiner says he’s delighted things have come so far with the organization, and that so many people have benefitted.

It began with just him and Gaudet refurbishing donated bicycles for use by migrant farmworkers who come to Niagara-on-the Lake each year. The first year, 2015, they did 50 bikes. As community knowledge of the program increased, four additional volunteers came on board working one or two days per week to meet the rapidly increasing demand. In the past two years, over 500 bicycles were distributed and 375 were repaired each year for migrant worker bicycle owners. 

“There are in the vicinity of 2,000 workers residing on the numerous farms in the area for up to eight months each year and who, for the vast majority, have no personal transportation other than bicycles,” says Weiner.

“The ability to go out for weekly grocery shopping, transportation for recreation or other personal interests becomes extremely important, thus the formation of BFF.”