The June 1994 Parade Magazine featured a story about the Bicycle Action Project in Indianapolis that worked with
inner city kids to build self esteem and to turn them away from drugs. The article interested me, but I took no
action. Two weeks later I received a letter from an 81year old lady who said that many years ago she taught
kids in center city Allentown to sew. The letter was sent to me at the bike shop which I owned and included a
copy of the Parade magazine article. She wrote "wouldn't it be neat if Allentown had such a program?" I felt
I was being given a message and a mission. During next month I took the idea to the community. I asked if
there was a need. The resounding answer was YES! Then the phone calls began, in a search for every thing from
a steering committee to a location. Only one of 50 calls panned out. A number of things were being worked on at
once: getting 501c3 status, a budget, developing a program etcetera.
Contacts were made with riders, churches, bike shops, newspaper, health bureau, police, city council, YMCA,
Alert, Casa Guadalupe, and Housing Authority. Diversity and size were important considerations. We decided on
grassroots people. Mike Klatchak, Mike Marchesky, Gail McMakin, Al Molinatti, Tom Morgan, Liz Reap and I
attended the first meeting on October 10, 1994. Soon thereafter we chose a name form a long list. In 1995,
Bill McQuilken, Ken Rumfield and Glen Schory came on board, while Pat Kubik replaced Tom Morgan. In November1995,
the committee became a board of directors.
Our programs are constantly evolving. We decided on the best for Allentown and formulated a program to meet
Concurrently, we developed a plan, a proposal. Research and statistics were needed in proving a local need.
A timetable was essential. More research was involved. Sources for information included library, legislative
offices, businesses, and newspaper articles. We faced several obstacles:
Our first funders were Saint John's United Church of Christ (Sixth & Walnut), the Rider-Pool Foundation and
Just Born. Since 1994 they remain with those that support us now.
- We needed money to start but were told we could not get money until we are up and running
- We were too original, it could not possibly work or we are not original enough
- We did not fit into any funding or agency category
Search for a location involved: Accessibility, size, storage and cost. We considered city redevelopment
properties, shared use and our own building. We decided on our own building that is essential to run a full
time program. From 1995 to 2000 we rented a dilapidated 650 square foot storefront at 639 Turner Street.
In May of 2000 we purchased our current site. Without interruption, Earn A Bike classes began here in June 2000.
Volunteers & Training
We began training volunteers 2 months prior to our opening.