Esperanza Health Centers 2017 Summer Collaboration Series

Photo credit: Rhonda Bausley

Working Bikes is constantly looking for more ways to connect with likeminded, neighboring organizations to further the goal of recycling bicycles and giving them to those in need. Esperanza Health Centers, with locations in South Lawndale, Little Village, and Chicago Lawn, is one such organization. On top of our established Prescription To Ride partnership, in which we provide Esperanza clients bicycles for health and overall wellness, we have established a series of events this summer. Our apprentices in the One Summer Chicago program are repairing bicycles to provide to three of Esperanza’s health groups within the community.

We kicked off the series with participants of Esperanza’s Little Village Breastfeeding Group on June 29th at the outdoor pavilion of the fairly new La Villita Park. After the adults and children of the group excitedly picked out bicycles, Working Bikes general manager, Paul Fitzgerald, discussed bike safety.  We ended the day with a group ride around the park’s soccer field.


Photo credit: Rhonda Bausley

On the morning of July 8th our apprentices were back at La Villita Park, presenting 10 bikes, locks, and helmets to participants of the “Be Me, Be Healthy” program. The program is geared toward teenage girls and assists with self esteem and relationships. The girls listened to our One Summer apprentices explain how to check their bike for safety as well as how to figure out how to choose the right bike. And once bicycles were picked out, we once again took a leisure group ride.  


Photo credit: Rhonda Bausley

We will finish the summer series with Esperanza’s Girls on the Run group on July 27th. The group focuses on self-esteem and health as the girls train for a 5k race. This certainly won’t be the last collaboration with Esperanza Health Center; stay tuned for more.  


Working Bikes Recognized For Local Donation Efforts

In our effort to redistribute bikes and assist in transportation equity, Working Bikes provides bicycles globally and locally. Our local donation program is aptly named the Cycle of Power along with a kids’ component called Cycle of Peace. In these programs, bicycles are donated to referred individuals as well as large groups through partnering organizations, typically in a form of an event.

We were able to help one such group in partnership with Rose Mabwa, Senior Manager at The Community Builders – Oakley Square division. On June 10, Working Bikes provided 30 adult and kids bikes to residents in East Garfield Park. To our surprise Rose presented Working Bikes with a plaque in appreciation of providing donations and supporting the community.

Less than a week later our programs were again acknowledged. During the annual Bike to Work Rally at Daley Plaza on June 16th, Working Bikes graciously accepted the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) Award from the Chicago Department of Transportation for giving 1,000 bikes to children in Bronzeville in North Lawndale, giveaways that were partnered with Angela Ford of the TAG Foundation. The award is given to organizations that have helped improve cycling in Chicago which is what we strive for in our Cycle of Power and Cycle of Peace programs.


Inclusion Through Expanding Partnerships

Working Bikes has expanded programming for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The following is a description of Vaughn Occupational High School’s experience at Working Bikes written by Amanda Neuman, their teacher and chaperone:

“Vaughn has been collaborating with Working Bikes for two years on a biweekly basis. The collaboration has created invaluable experiences for the students and Working Bikes. While at Working Bikes, students are exposed to authentic vocational and volunteer experiences where they can learn skills necessary for team-work, basic bike maintenance, and the importance of giving back to the community- all while lending a helping hand to the organization. Aside from the skills learned it helps build the student’s confidence and motivation for post-secondary goals. Working Bikes has opened their arms to the young adults at Vaughn Occupational School and the results have been incredible. It is a relationship we hope to keep for many years to come.

Photo credit: Amanda Neuman

“Vaughn Occupational High School serves students with mild-moderate intellectual disabilities, autism, social and emotional needs, and physical disabilities. Vaughn’s mission is to teach its students individualized, functional academics, emphasizing occupational development and independence. A focus on social and emotional growth is a key part of Vaughn’s philosophy. Vaughn is one of the a few schools recognized for its excellence in providing integrated programs that include students and adults with non-disabled peers from other schools and within the community. Students are also integrated through strong community and business partnerships.”

The Vaughn students have learned how to operate a bike stand, grease stems, and prep bikes for shipment. They help clean bikes and inflate tires. Working Bikes volunteer Paul Konkoly co-instructed this year’s program, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with the students and occasionally bakes treats to share with everyone. Working Bikes would like to thank Paul Konkoly for assisting and sometimes leading the Vaughn School group, recognize Volunteer Coordinator Andrew Bermudez for his patience and excellent instruction, and wish the Vaughn School students and staff a wonderful summer.


Working Bikes Visits Mexico City for World Bike Forum

In April, Working Bikes staff members Cesar Meza, Brian Vargas, and veteran volunteer Waymond Smith attended the 6th Annual World Bike Forum in Mexico City, also known as Foro Mundial De La Bicicleta 6. Brian has shared a few words from his experience:

First and foremost, a huge thank you to all of the Working Bikes staff and volunteers whose hard work and dedication allow us to extend a helping hand to our friends abroad and here at home.

Foro Mundial De La Bicicleta 6 was a fantastic event that provided a place for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike to share ideas about cycling culture and its future around the world. We were fortunate to hear from so many great speakers about how we as people have a right & responsibility to reclaim the streets instead of investing more money into infrastructure for cars that in turn pollute our air.

It was truly heartwarming to learn about the impact bicycles had in countries dealing with harsh traffic and rough roads, leading them into a future with cleaner air, safer car and bike lanes, and healthier, more active people. A bicycle is a true tool of empowerment that brings its user nearly endless possibilities from simply getting to work to powering a concert with a few other people. It was a true honor to ride alongside hundreds of cyclists while riding on a twelve-person bike, courtesy of our friends at Bicicom from around the world, through the beautiful streets of Mexico City.

Cycling is changing the world in a very positive way, more and more organizations are now working to provide cyclists with free or low cost assistance in case of emergencies and even mechanical assistance. As programs like these continue to grow and expand, being a cyclist will definitely get easier and better.

– Brian Vargas


Evanston Bicycle Club Awards $3,000 Grant to Working Bikes

Working Bikes successfully applied for a grant from the Evanston Bicycle Club (EBC). As stated in our grant application to EBC, Working Bikes will use these funds to help enhance our local donation program to get bikes in the hands of children, refugees, veterans, the homeless and others who need bikes in the Chicago area for healthy transportation.

Funds from the North Shore Century enable the EBC to provide grants and donations to not-for-profit organizations for biking-related programs and activities. Roughly 80% of the net proceeds of the 2017 North Shore Century will benefit similar organizations and programs.

We are very grateful for EBC’s support and strongly encourage cyclists to register for the 33rd Annual North Shore Century held on Sunday September 17, 2017 on their website.


New staff updates in the new year

Working Bikes is always excited to see our staff members grow within their roles and take on new challenges. We are pleased to announce the following promotions, effective January 1, 2017. Please join us in wishing them well in their new positions!

Service & Retail Manager


Cesar Meza-Duron has assumed the role of managing our service department and retail operations. He initially came to Working Bikes as a Curie High School volunteer and went on to participate in our first ONE Summer Chicago program before being hired as service department staff in 2014. When not at Working Bikes, Cesar can be found in class at Chicago City Colleges or racing with the West Town Bikes Cyclocross program.

Warehouse Manager


BK Elmore was first employed by Working Bikes as an instructor for our 2013 summer program with Growing Power at Iron Street Farm in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Since that time, BK has worked as volunteer coordinator, mechanic, driver, and even composer of the Working Bikes’ anthem callers hear when on hold. His new position as warehouse manager gives him responsibility for the overall organization of the warehouse including the movement of bikes within the warehouse, prepping/staging of bikes for container shipments, and bike pick-ups.

Volunteer Shop Manager


Maja Perez is charged with managing and developing all programming in Working Bikes’ volunteer space, Brandon’s Bike Shop. A native of Bakersfield, California, Maja worked for Bike Bakersfield Bike Co-Op before moving to Chicago. She has taught an After School Matters program with West Town Bikes and served as volunteer coordinator with Working Bikes. Maja is a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and the founder of Working Bikes’ Thursday WTF! Night, a volunteer session exclusively for women, transgendered, femme, and gender non-conforming people.


Working Bikes at Windy City Rollers Derby

WB at Derby 2013On Saturday April 20, Manager Paul Fitzgerald appeared during the half time show of the Windy City Rollers Derby to receive a check for $500. The Fury, one of the home teams in the league, had selected Working Bikes to be their charity beneficiary for the 2013 season.

As Fitzgerald graciously received the check and spoke about Working Bikes to the audience, Volunteer Chair Sujith Kumar walked into the ring dragging a trash can full of discarded bikes. Lamenting the fact that Chicago contributes hundreds of bikes to the waste-stream every year, Kumar asked Fitzgerald what could be done with such refuse.

Fitzgerald suggested a mini bike race around the track, and called for his mini bike racer, with whom he always travel. Wearing a bright orange, skin tight outfit, with Fury logo prominently displayed on the chest and crotch, Sybil Disobedience entered the ring, ready to race.

Seeing as Fitzgerald brought his own ringer, Kumar thought it only fair to have a raffle in order to select the 2nd racer. Upon calling out the winning seat, a young man by the name of Frank Pro Bro-no, entered the ring. Pro Bro-no removed his street clothing to reveal a bright red, skin tight, single piece track suit, which he conveniently wore to the Derby.

2013-04-20 19.49.26

Fitzgerald started the race, and it was neck and neck until the very end when Sybil Disobedience took the lead and won by a hair. As the racers circled the track, the new Working Bikes Anthem was debuted by volunteer and rock star, bk elmore.

Working Bikes Anthem

WB at Derby 2013 2