by Nicole Odell
Something wonderful is happening on the fourth floor of the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital. It’s not a medical research facility, though some may say it could have long term positive health benefits for many people. In this large space lives the current home of Project ReCycle.
I walked into the 20,000 square foot facility and it’s anything but glamorous; it’s mostly unfinished space. But as I entered I had a huge smile on my face. I had just encountered a vast sea of bicycles. Some were shiny and clean awaiting new owners, some waiting their turn to get fixed up, and some willing to sacrifice themselves to be used as parts to make other bikes roll again. (And if you’re wondering why a bicycle program is located in a hospital like I was, it’s because the space has been donated to them.)
I met with A.J. Stapleton, founder and Executive Director to learn more about Project ReCycle. Here in this space, 2000 bikes are taken in annually, refurbished or used for parts, and then distributed to kids who need them. But they aren’t just given away – the kids have to earn them through specific challenges. He wants them to learn life lessons before getting their bike, helmet, water bottle, and lock. About 1500 bikes leave the project each year for a new home, the rest used as parts.
In the back of the space were nine work benches, eight of which fully stocked with tools. Mechanics can come in and donate their time to work on the bikes. There are days they are open public, open to mechanics, and there are times that programs bring in kids who might need a little direction in their lives to learn how to fix bikes.
What’s also great is that almost everything in Project ReCycle is reused. Old parts are cleaned up and used to make a bike functional again, and those parts that just aren’t worthy of use any more are recycled.
How did it all get started?
A.J. was on the Board of Directors of the Inner City Health Center in Denver, and one of their campaigns was to give bikes to people in need. And they ran out of bikes. He saw the faces of kids in line waiting for the bike that was promised to them and they couldn’t deliver.
Recognizing a massive need for bicycles in the community, A.J. created a program where there was a constant supply of bicycles, and now we have Project ReCycle. He is so committed to this cause that he sold his business to work on the project full time.
There are 13 drop off locations throughout the south Denver area. Their big events take place in May and December, but there programs through schools as well. When the kids get their bikes, they also get a fun lesson on traffic rules so they know how to be safe and a responsible cyclist.
I’m only briefly touching on the impact that Project ReCycle has in Denver and surrounding communities. There is so much going on, and they are growing enough to install an inventory control system so that they can better manage future growth..
Not all bikes go to kids, although that is the primary focus. Some of the bikes get sent to Africa via the Bicycles For Humanity project. And some of the cruisers they get are often donated to other non-profits for fundraising efforts. If you’re an advocate of helping more people have access to bicycles, you’ll certainly want to look into Project ReCycle.