HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
It was an ordinary afternoon when a young girl named Britney stopped at Becky and Tim O’Mara’s house to ask for some glue for her homework project. A few days later, Britney came by again, seeking help to fix her broken bike. Becky and Tim arranged for her to do chores in their yard to earn money for the parts, and a month later, they surprised her with a brand new bike. Britney was overjoyed as she sped off, her smile a mile wide, and within no time, all the neighborhood kids wanted to know how they too could earn a bike.
What began with a simple gesture—neighbors helping neighbors—has sparked a community transformation on Atlanta’s Westside.
When the O’Maras moved to Adair Park in 2008, the area was struggling with poverty, unemployment, gang-fighting, drug activity, and a host of other challenges. Children in the neighborhood faced adversity at every turn. But there were also plenty of opportunities for kids to make a difference. They started picking up bags of trash in the streets and local parks, hoping to earn bikes of their own—and by simply mentioning the kids’ efforts to co-workers and friends, Tim and Becky began to receive an outpouring of bike donations.
The Bearings model began to take shape: If you give a kid a bike, they will simply ride it wherever they go, but let them earn the bike, and you can make them a part of the community. Once they are contributing members of their families and the community, they are on the journey to becoming confident, responsible, and healthy young people.
We all need to find our bearings in life. At Bearings Bike Shop, kids can do just that... while they develop skills, benefit from positive influences, and blaze their own paths toward a brighter future.
In 2010, the O’Maras began renting a warehouse basement at 982 Murphy Avenue to serve as the home of Bearings Bike Shop. In this safe, positive environment, kids discover their strengths, develop life skills, and begin to invest in their communities.
CREATING A FRAMEWORK FOR SUCCESS
Just as a bike frame supports the wheels, handlebars, brakes, and every other component on a bicycle, a strong framework is essential in life, particularly as young people grow up, make choices, and begin to navigate through the wider world.
That’s why the mission of Bearings Bike Shop extends far beyond teaching kids to earn and maintain a bicycle. This unique nonprofit organization works with young people to help them leverage their inner strengths, build self-confidence, gain valuable employability skills, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve their individual goals. Bearings empowers youth as they develop into successful leaders with purpose, character, and confidence.
Although the prospect of earning a bike is what draws kids to Bearings, the excitement of learning new skills and being a part of a community keeps them returning, week after week. In addition to the main bike shop in Adair Park, Bearings now has a satellite location in South Atlanta, and almost unlimited possibilities to engage kids in meaningful, hands-on youth development activities.
After the successful community clean-up nearly a decade ago, Tim turned his attention to developing Bearings Bike Shop’s Skills for Life program, incorporating best practices from other youth empowerment initiatives. Skills for Life features a point system that awards stars to kids as they work toward specific milestones. It focuses on three key areas:
Hard skills including bike assembly, tire repair, brake adjustments, and tune-ups.
Soft skills such as critical thinking and communication, which can make the difference in getting and keeping a job.
Character strengths such as perseverance and responsibility, that help youth do well in high school, college, and their careers.
In addition, Bearings motivates kids to be active and physically fit by promoting cycling as a recreational pursuit and as an inexpensive means of transportation. The bike shop serves as a vibrant community hub where kids can hang out with positive role models, while helping to eliminate idle time.
Older teens who have completed the Skills for Life program have the opportunity to join the organization’s Frameworks program, working as part-time interns fixing bikes, stocking the shop, and coaching kids during shop hours. In addition to obtaining meaningful professional development and on-the-job training, they attend financial literacy workshops and visit various workplaces to gain career insights and to envision new possibilities for their own futures.
Last year alone, 350 students across Atlanta’s Westside participated in Bearing Bike Shop’s unique youth development initiatives. It is now time to give even more young people the chance to learn and grow with Bearings, in a newly expanded facility in Adair Park.
SETTING THE WHEELS IN MOTION
The Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail is now open to the public, and people are traveling daily along the three-mile path adjacent to the Adair Park bike shop. Neighborhoods that were once virtually inaccessible to Bearings are now only a short walk or bike ride away on the Trail, which runs from Washington Park to Adair Park and connects four schools, four parks, and a dozen neighborhoods.The BeltLine provides Bearings with a tremendous opportunity to reach many more youth and engage them directly in the bike shop’s life-changing mission.
As a first step toward program expansion, a few years ago, Tim started talking with the bike shop’s landlord about the possibility of buying the entire 0.8-acre property at the corner of Murphy Avenue and Brookline Street. They mutually agreed on a purchase price and when the owner passed away in 2016, his son honored the deal that had been negotiated. After environmental testing was done and the probate process was completed, ownership of the property was transferred to Bearings Bike Shop in 2017.
The 982 Murphy Avenue location is ideal for Bearings to serve its surrounding neighborhoods and support all existing and future bike shop programming. In addition to being situated on the Westside Trail, the Bearings property is across the street from an elevated north-south MARTA rail line, in close proximity to the
new Lee + White food and beverage district and across the BeltLine from the soon-to-be-developed 16-acre Murphy’s Crossing site. The area will undoubtedly experience more change in the near future, and it was critically important that Bearings secured the site at a favorable purchase price while it was still available. Bearings Bike Shop is now preparing to move its youth programming space from its current basement location into a new, airy bike shop on the southwest corner of the property, overlooking the Westside Trail.
SHIFTING INTO HIGHER GEAR
capital campaign $2,250,000
Bearings worked with Square Feet Studio and Silverman Construction Program Management to develop the conceptual design of its new home. Now, working under the leadership of NELSON Wakefield Beasley & Associates, Bearings Bike Shop has developed a dynamic vision to repurpose the existing buildings at 982 Murphy Avenue to accommodate the organization’s long-term growth. The new layout for the property will preserve the historical look and feel of the buildings, maintain the local character, improve the functionality of the site, and maximize the impact of Bearings Bike Shop.
In February 2018, Bearings Bike Shop embarked on the exciting journey of the BUILDING TOMORROW Capital Campaign, a $2.25 million campaign to make that vision come to life. In the spring of 2019, Bearings achieved that goal, successfully raising $2,354,450.
In this first phase in a 2-part project, capital campaign dollars will fund the property acquisition and will transform the recently vacated automotive shop into a new, light-filled 5,000-square-foot program space with 20+ bike stands, as well as classroom space for in-depth teaching and training opportunities. In addition, exterior spaces will be upgraded around the new bike shop, with an emphasis on making the property clean and safe. A small parking lot, grass, trees, and other landscaping elements will be installed, and a loop path will be created around the site, giving kids and visitors a great place to ride bikes, run, and play. While securing capital funds for the purchase and renovation of 982 Murphy Avenue, BUILDING TOMORROW also supports Bearings with capacity-building dollars to aid organizational growth during this season of growth.
In Phase 2, Bearings will convert the other main building on the site, next to the double Quonset hut, into a public-facing retail bike shop, the ideal space for hands-on job training opportunities for teens and young adult program participants. It will also contain the new Bearings Support Center, which will feature space dedicated to the organization’s operations, a bike intake center, gathering spaces for kids and adults, and workstations for computer access and homework support. The entire property is focused on strengthening Bearings Bike Shop’s ability to help young people develop the skills that propel them successfully into adulthood. Fundraising for Phase 2 will begin in 2020 after a successful completion of Phase 1 construction.
As redevelopment occurs on Atlanta’s Westside, community leaders have a deep desire to retain and enhance existing assets in individual neighborhoods. In Adair Park, Bearings Bike Shop hopes to play a vital role, serving as a strong community anchor and a shining beacon of hope. With design underway, Bearings looks forward to a grand opening of this new facility in the summer of 2020.
campaign leadership COMMITTEE
Mr. Alex Dominguez Board Member & Campaign Chair Region One Commercial Mr. Michael Burke Founder/Former CEO, Clockwise.MD DocuTAP Mr. Leonce B. Crump Jr. Lead Pastor Renovation Church
Mr. Dan Heller Board Chair Retired, King & Spalding, LLP Ms. Jill Jinks Chief Executive Officer Insurance House Holdings
Mr. Darryl Lesure Board Member Manager, Program Management Supply Chain Chick-fil-A Mr. Howard Lukens Chief Sales Officer QuantumScape
We’ve reached our goal!
$2,354,450 raised to date OF $2.25 MILLION GOAL
Building tomorrow partners
We are grateful for the support of an incredible group of Friends of Bearings Bike Shop who believe in the importance of skills development in Atlanta’s youth and have made BUILDING TOMORROW possible:
Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
James M. Cox Foundation
A Friend of Bearings Bike Shop
John H. and Wilhemina D. Harland Charitable Foundation
The Jinks Family Private Foundation
The John and Mary Franklin Foundation
The Sartain Lanier Family Foundation
The Waterfall Foundation
Tull Charitable Foundation, Inc.
NELSON Wakefield Beasley & Associates
Alan and Dena Martin
Tim and Becky O’Mara
Becky and Mark Riley
Ben and Jessica Teague
Bruce and Rhonda Deel
Cedric and Stacye Brim
Passion City Church
Petters Family Foundation
The Imlay Foundation
Dan and Debby Heller
Dave Stockert and Cammie Ives
David and Loni Metter
Evan and Susan Longstreth
Howard and Ann Lukens
Jaynie and Alex Dominguez
Jeff and Hope Laman
John and Rachael Sherwood
Jon and Vanessa Evans