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 who are much less likely to fall into a life of crime and violence.
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.
Since 2010, the O’Maras have been 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, change the trajectories of their lives, and begin to invest in their own communities. Bearings Bike Shop now has an extraordinary opportunity to acquire and renovate this property, creating a new, dynamic destination for youth empowerment on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail. Please join us in BUILDING TOMORROW.
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—especially at-risk boys and young men—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, there are now two satellite locations—in Westview and Washington Park— 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 are often lacking in young people growing up in poverty and 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, which can sometimes lead to destructive behavior.
Older teens who have completed the Skills for Life program have the opportunity to join the organization’s new Advanced Job Training 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
PROPERTY ACQUISITION $450,000
The Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail is now open to the public, and hundreds of 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 of $450,000, 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 continue to lift up the Adair Park community, serve other Westside neighborhoods, and support all existing and future bike shop programming. Capital campaign dollars will fund the property acquisition and ensure that Bearings Bike Shop remains in the heart of Atlanta’s Westside for years to come.
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 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
PROPERTY RENOVATION $2,250,000
Working with Square Feet Studio and Silverman Construction Program Management, 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.
Campaign investments will support the renovation of the recently vacated auto service shop on the property, transforming it into a fun, safe, welcoming space for Bearings’ youth development activities. This new 5,000-square-foot shop will hold 40 bike stands—compared to 15 stands currently—and will allow the facility to grow from serving 225 kids to more than 500 annually. The bike shop will have roll-up garage doors at street level on Murphy Avenue and on the side of the building facing the BeltLine, to let in fresh air and light. Also in this building will be two separate classrooms, a mezzanine with additional meeting spaces, and much-needed bike storage. A new BeltLine lookout platform will offer views of the Westside Trail, as well as plenty of space for cyclists to gather and for kids to tinker with bikes.
The other main building on the site, next to the double Quonset hut, will be converted into a new Bearings Support Center, which will feature space dedicated to the organization’s operations, a bike intake center, gathering spaces for kids and adults, workstations for computer access and homework support, and a public-facing retail space, the ideal space for hands-on job training opportunities. The entire property is focused on strengthening Bearings Bike Shop’s ability to transform young people’s lives.
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.
Preparing for the long haul
CAPACITY-BUILDING SUPPORT $300,000
Bearings Bike Shop is here to stay—a homegrown nonprofit that was established in response to an authentic need in the community.
While securing capital funds for the purchase and renovation of 982 Murphy Avenue, BUILDING TOMORROW also will raise capacity-building dollars to aid organizational growth over the next two years. During this time, Bearings will build out the Adair Park property and embark on its first full year of expanded operations. New staff, including a retail manager and job-training coordinator, will be phased in to support increased programming initiatives.
Campaign investments will help ensure the sustainability and ongoing vitality of one of the Westside’s most exceptional organizations, propelling Bearings Bike Shop onward and upward.
GEARING UP FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE
Bearings now has a wonderful opportunity to “bloom where it was planted” and to grow in service to the city. 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 plays a very critical role—a strong community anchor and a shining beacon of hope.
Working with dozens of local partners, Bearings has a well-established track record and has earned an enormous amount of trust from residents of all ages, particularly the area’s youth. According to recent Atlanta BeltLine data, in the neighborhoods directly adjacent to the Westside Trail, approximately one-third of the population is under the age of 19—and nearly 100% of neighborhood students are economically disadvantaged. The odds are stacked against children growing up in poverty, so it is imperative that they are equipped with the skills and the support structure to overcome the lure of crime, addiction, and other negative influences.
Bearings Bike Shop already makes an incredible difference in the lives of children and teens. Dedicated bike shop staff and volunteers do everything possible to guide kids along a pathway to success—and they are ready to do so much more.
Contributions to the BUILDING TOMORROW campaign will be leveraged to impact individual lives, representing an incredible investment in the youth of Atlanta’s Westside. Your generosity today will pay dividends for generations to come.
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!
$2,329,450 raised to date OF $2.25 MILLION GOAL
become a partner
This is an exciting time for Bearings Bike Shop as we prepare to expand our impact across Atlanta’s Westside and beyond. Building on our past success, we are well-positioned to reach more kids than ever as we work to transform lives and our community. As a partner, you can make an exponential and lasting difference in the lives of kids and the city of Atlanta.
While we’ve reached our capital goal of $2.25 million to complete this project, we enthusiastically invite you to be part of supporting Bearings’ ongoing programming in this exciting season of growth. Join us in this important work by becoming a financial partner today.
If you would like to donate by check, please send your donations to:
Bearings Bike Shop
982 Murphy Ave SW
Atlanta, GA 30310
Bearings Bike Shop is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.