“Nothing Happens without the parking attendant, folks!”– our 10 year journey and a thank you message from Andy Gild, B4H Melbourne President
It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years already. In some ways I feel as though we are only just getting started and there is still so much to do.
“Nothing Happens without the parking attendant!” This is a line one ofour volunteers used in our very first packing day video in 2008! To me it sums up the importance of each and every person who has been involved along the way.
I would like to thank each and every one of our volunteers because without you, none of what we have achieved would have been possible.
How did our 100% volunteer run, grass roots charity come to be?Back in 2008, when I hit my 40’s, I had extra capacity, working part timeas a physio and with my kids at school full time. I began searching for a way to give back. When I came across the work of B4H, a global movement originating in Canada. With my love of cycling and having emigrated from South Africa, I was immediately drawn to the notion of empowering others through recycling old bicycles which would otherwise go to landfill.
The planets were definitely aligned, as exactly at this point in time, Matt McCullough was re-connecting with fellow bicycle enthusiast and good friend, Michael Linke (who heads up our partner organisation BEN Namibia), and taking the first steps to form the first Australian B4H chapter here in Melbourne. Matt and I met over a coffee in St Kilda and his incredible positivity meant that from the moment he envisioned the collection of 100s of bicycles and sending them to Namibia – nothing was going to get in our way. This ever-present optimism with which Matt approached each obstacle we faced, ensured not a hint of doubt would disrupt the sometimes daunting task of finding a home for hundreds of bicycles on the other side of the world.
November 2018 saw Bicycles for Humanity (B4H), Melbourne celebrate our 10th Anniversary and our 21st shipping container of recycled bicycles– totalling 10,000 bicycles over the decade. An important milestone to mark and an opportunity to thank the many people involved in our growing B4H family – working together to improve communities in need.
The beginnings weren’t easy, with many challenges and more questionsthan answers, but that didn’t stop us having fun!
So where did we begin?
Our initial challenge was to find a space to store a 40’ shippingcontainer. We were relatively nomadic for the first few years, and our volunteers enjoyed the hospitality of a variety of locations to prep and pack bicycles.
As luck would have it, and through the generosity of Ben Bud, 2011 had us settling into a wonderful semi-permanent home at Parkvue Secure Self-storage in Dingley. This site has been transformed with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers and fabulous grants from our friends at Citywide and a Stronger Communities, as well as through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. This has meant we now have a roof over our heads, solar power, and basic needs met with a water tank and an all important portaloo.
Our initial financial hurdle was overcome thanks to the incredible generosity and support of Hugo Davidson from Knog, who donated the first funds to enable us to buy and ship our first container of bicycles to Namibia. Knog has remained a most valued and appreciated supporter.
So, now we had a container and somewhere to place it, next we needed bicycles! Putting our initial call out for bicycles was a little scary as we had no idea whether we would get 1 bicycle or 100. The initial support from the community was very exciting and this has only grown as we have.
Thankfully, our bicycle collection processes are much more streamlined now thanks to wonderful committee members Peter Shanley and Phil Van Staveren – who not only ensure the orderly running of Dingley, but travel around Melbourne collecting bicycles from our longstanding partners at Bicycle Superstores. Our immense thanks go to Sally Randall, Brett Truscott and all the staff at the various stores for your support – from the early days, right up to today.
This year has also seen the establishment of a Bayside collection team, made up of Monika Alston, John Turner and Michael Finestone and withcontinued support from the fabulous people from Dingley Men’s Shed, Glen Iris Uniting Church as well as the broader Victorian communities of Sunbury, Ocean Grove, Queenscliff and our very own fabulous
treasurer, Dean Kennedy, and his family in Gisbourne – the bicycles keep rolling in!
We are also grateful to David Jablonka and his team at Second Chance Cycles for recycling bicycles which are not suited to African roads, restoring these for re-sale with all funds going towards shipping our containers, which remains our largest expense.
Once the containers are packed, they seemingly make their own way to the docks. Well perhaps they get a little help from our amazing Phil who takes care of all the tricky logistics. As well as our newest partner in L Arthur transport Services, who have recently come on board to assist with transporting our containers from supply to Dingley and then to port. Our thanks goes to Kerryn Clark, Connie Corso and their team.
It didn’t take long for our B4H family to start growing
with Ylva Carosone and Anna Jeffries becoming vital cogs in our B4H wheels, joining our little committee with so much enthusiasm! Wordscan’t really express the gratitude I feel to you two beautiful women – for all your love and support, you will always remain a hugely important part of our B4H family.
Founded and never Forgotten
The strong foundation of B4H Melbourne was built in a big part on Matt’spositivity, his inclusiveness and beautiful warm nature. As many of you know, Matt very tragically and suddenly passed away last year.
You may believe, as I do, that we are all here for a purpose. Perhapsone of Matt’s reasons for being with us was to open his huge heart andgive us the opportunity to become part of a wonderful family and contribute positively in our various ways, to empower individuals and communities across the globe.
Thanks to the generosity of those who loved and respected Matt – funds raised at his memorial were donated on his behalf to B4H Melbourne and our wonderful friends at Good Cycles. Together with Jaison Hoernal and his team, we have started working towards an ongoing endowment fund with the hope of sending selected people to engage with our beneficiary communities – whether it be to assist with mechanical training, or possibly to capture stories from those communities through multimedia which was one of Matt’s passions.
We are so grateful that we were able to honour Matt’s contribution to thelife of B4H Melbourne and the many communities he impacted. We miss Matt dearly and as we continue to work towards a legacy he would be proud of, I often hear his guiding words when we are faced with difficult decisions.
Over the years, Matt, Ylva and myself, as well as a few of our volunteers– Anne Chan, Tim Mulligan, Dave Sayers and most recently Marty Van Hoorn – have made our way to Africa, visiting the communities are supporting. This has been extremely useful to develop closer working relationships and to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced.
Every Donation Has Purpose
As with all small charities one of our biggest challenges remains fundraising. Besides our annual fundraising event, much of our funds have come from everyday people taking part in cycling or running events, some conquering extraordinary challenges such as cycling from Melbourne to Cairns, escaping from Alcatraz, riding 1000km through the Alps between Canberra and Melbourne, donating in lieu of gifts for celebrations, and even through small community events. We would like to say a huge thank you to all these amazing people.
We are also proud to have achieved Deductible Gift Recipient status in the overseas aid category which was no mean feat. Special thanks must go to Anton Herman and his team from Minter Ellison for their pro-bono legal support in achieving this.
One of the most important developments this year has seen our increased support in Namibia through our major in-country partner, Michael Linke and BEN Namibia. Through the establishment of the Bicycle Enterprise Support & Training program (BEST), we are striving to ensure greater sustainability of the bicycle workshops in Namibia.
|This work has been made possible through the fabulous support of the|
|Intrepid Group and Intrepid Foundation who have included B4H as one of the charities they support. We would also like to thank the Intrepid Group for their very generous support in donating our major prize in our Melbourne to Namibia challenge over the past 3 years.|
|We are very fortunate to have the continued support of Michael and Susanne Silver who have allowed us to have many a meeting and some fabulous events at Melbourne’s Magnet Galleries.|
I would like to take this opportunity to give special thanks
To my family – my husband, Shane and our kids, Ashlea and Dean, as well as my wider family members – thank you for your love and patience over the years, and for enabling me the time to devote to this wonderful B4H family – always sharing an ear and guiding me along the way.
To the next 10
B4H Melbourne has travelled far in 10 years and with a solid leadership team in Mary-Jane Willis, Amanda James, Dean Kennedy, Gary Chan, Peter Shanley, Phil Van Staveren, Uri Gordon and Greg Dodd, we are well placed to take on our new challenges.
Behind the scenes is support from our growing number of fabulous volunteers. Huge thanks to Kevin Wong, Anne Chan, Steph Chan, Bill Martin, Deb Houghton, Ira Felinski, Vidhi Bharti, Julie Doyle, Jules Mallia, Edwina Lu, Entsar Farag, Benazir Suraiya, Rosalind Harrison, Jocelyn Hutton and our newest volunteers Yifan Feng, Chris Whitaker and Enrico Armenia – who have all given of their time, skills and energy to help in so many ways.
We are all very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, and the impact we, and future volunteers can ALL continue to make to communities both locally and overseas.
Andy Gild, President B4H Melbourne