Written by Arkansas Real Estate
Just south of Bella Vista Lake, a modest corrugate warehouse sits just off McNelly Road. On most days, the workshop and warehouse are nothing out of the ordinary, but on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings, the doors are wide open for volunteers and donors. In less than a year, volunteers at Pedal it Forward NWA have refurbished and donated hundreds of bikes to community members of all ages.
On a bright Saturday morning, co-founder David Tovey and his son Evan are hard at work repairing bikes and reviewing distribution lists. Referencing the age, weight and height of each potential recipient, the team scours inventory and scavenges parts to find (or build) the perfect match.
A far cry from last year’s bare walls and empty rooms, the warehouse is now packed to the brim with bicycles, with some inventory spilling over onto the back porch. Whispering Song Trail runs just behind the warehouse. A creek bubbles alongside the path as cyclists breeze past. Despite the idyllic backdrop, Tovey says the long-term goal is to move the organization to a more urban location that will be more accessible to cyclists and the community at large.
But for now, location isn’t getting in the way of the non-profit’s success. The organization found early success in its initial Christmas donation drive, delivering 100 bikes to families in the local area. Since then, Pedal it Forward NWA has forged connections with “pedal partners” like Oakdale Middle School, Souls Harbor and the Boys and Girls Club.
In return for bikes, pedal partners need only identify a need or create a volunteer initiative to help connect community members with bikes. This allows people of all ages to access bikes for transportation, recreation and fitness.
“Our mission is to get a bike into the hands of anyone who needs one, regardless of their ability to pay,” Tovey says.
Pedal it Forward has also inspired veterans to participate in cycling. Partnering with the local VA, the organization has provided bicycles for veterans and their families. Mindi Littleton, recovery coordinator at the Veterans Health Care Center of the Ozarks, says donated bikes have gone to support veterans as a means of transportation, exercise and socialization.
In addition to helping veterans live fuller, healthier lives, Pedal it Forward NWA will also be providing equipment for a veteran cycling team in next year’s Golden Age Veterans Games. The event, which will be held next July, is exclusively for veterans ages 55 and over.
Pedal it Forward’s big goal for 2015 is to distribute 500 bikes to local partners, and with the holidays on the horizon, all donations and help are much appreciated. The organization is accepting volunteers of all skill levels. For more information visit http://pedalitforwardnwa.com/.
Warehouse & Workshop Location: 4302 NW Wishing Spring Rd, Bentonville, AR
Hours: Monday after 5:30 pm, Saturday 9-Noon