DPR’s San Jose office has proven itself when it comes to completing technically complex projects – think data centers and labs – but on Saturday, August 18, employees focused their skills on simpler technology: bicycles. Fixing a flat tire might seem like a small task compared with ensuring uninterrupted performance in a mission critical facility, but to area children, it’s equally essential.
For the second year in a row, DPR San Jose partnered with San Jose-based TurningWheels for Kids to host a bike repair clinic and hot dog barbecue in its office parking lot. Whereas last year’s event netted approximately 80 repaired bikes, this year’s volunteers were able to get 95 bikes in working order in just four hours. On top of that, 10 used bikes were donated to low-income kids. This is the sixth bike repair clinic that DPR has participated in with the organization.
DPR’s Phil Bartkowski, who sits on the TWFK board of directors along with DPR San Jose Regional Manager Scott Greubel, said the more than 10 DPR volunteers who chose to spend their Saturday working on the bikes were drawn to the idea of having a tangible way of changing kids lives and providing joy. “Many of these kids would never have a chance to get a new bike or have their bikes repaired,” Bartkowski said. “In these cases, the parents don’t have the means or the time to fix a broken bike.”
To ensure the toughest repairs get fixed, a master bike mechanic attends each of the repair clinic events. Bartkowski also has created a primer class for DPR volunteers to learn basic repairs like changing a tire or a tube. Bartkowski added that kids line up around the block early to get help with problems ranging from stolen seats to broken brakes. “In addition to fixing the bikes, volunteers spent time teaching the kids about basic repairs so they can take responsibility and fix their own bikes in the future rather than waiting for the next clinic,” he said.
Founded in 2003, TWFK is a dynamic program that provides new bicycles for underprivileged children in the local community. The goal of TWFK is to entice children back outdoors, away from TV, computers and snacking, and reintroduce outdoor activity and play. Additionally, TWFK strives to provide a bit of joy to children from low-income families, who are all too familiar with the pressures of living in an environment of uncertainty and often chaos. Each year TWFK works diligently to collect funds, purchase and assemble bikes and then distribute them to worthy, established children’s charities for their holiday giving programs.
TurningWheels for Kids is one of 14 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $590,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2011. Since December 2008, the DPR Foundation has supported the organization with grants totaling $78,000. Its grant of $40,000 in 2011 was the single largest the organization had ever received. Additionally, DPR served as the title sponsor for last year’s signature event, the Big Bike Build, held annually in December. Last year’s event drew more than 700 volunteers who built 2500 bikes in less than five hours.