Neighbors Helping Neighbors
How the Bike Shop Started
In 2008, Tim and Becky O'Mara moved into Adair Park, a historic neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta. They moved with dreams of enjoying intown living, oak-lined streets, and a neighborhood park across from their house. Like so many intown neighborhoods, Adair Park had its challenges. As they began renovating their house, they would watch local gangs gather and fight in the neighborhood park. It became apparent that the park was virtually unusable by families. Violence, drugs, prostitution, and crime dominated this little neighborhood to the point where small children couldn’t play on the playground.
When they were able, Tim and Becky would talk with the young kids in the park as they walked their dogs. They began getting to know the kids. One day, an opportunity presented itself to help a young girl earn money for new tires for her worn out bike. After a few weeks of doing chores around their house, she had earned enough for the tires. Tim and Becky surprised her with a new bike, and instantly all the neighborhood kids knew “Mr. Tim” and “Ms. Becky.”
Everyone wanted to know how they too could earn a bike. Eventually an idea began to germinate: very few of these children had bikes, but in the suburbs many previously enjoyed bikes were collecting dust and rust in garages and basements. Why not ask friends for their old bikes? What if those old bikes could find new homes in the lives of the children of Adair Park?
Tim and Becky's Christian faith undergirds their belief in the value of every person. Everyone has something to offer regardless of your race, gender, or socio-economic status. In Adair Park, residents were frustrated by the litter and dumping that tormented their streets. Neighbors saw value in helping keep the neighborhood clean. The idea was born: kids would be invited to earn a bike by picking up trash in the neighborhood. With that, everyone won; neighbors were thrilled the community was being cleaned up, kids were thrilled to earn a bike.
In the process a model was established. Give a kid a bike, and he will simply ride it wherever he goes, but let him earn the bike, and you can make him a part of the community. Make him a contributing member of his family and community, and you have the makings of a confident, responsible, and healthy child who has a significantly less chance of falling into a life of crime and violence and the support of a community that values his contribution.