As a recent college graduate, I realize how lucky I am to have a job. This luck is multiplied when I think of what my job actually is. I began my job as a program aide at Community Bike Works in June, and I have loved every minute of it.
Community Bike Works (CBW) is a non-profit organization that offers work ethic programs for the youth of Allentown that center around bicycle mechanics and safety. Adult volunteers and staff provide mentorship to students ages 9-17, encouraging them to be more engaged in their schools and communities. The core program of CBW is the Earn a Bike Class, a 12 week program that requires students to participate in a weekly class in which they work on repairing a bike that will eventually become their own. In order to earn this bike, students must attend class for twenty four hours and pass a written and practical bike safety test, and these requirements are outlined in a contract that they sign. Other programs include Drop-In, Earn a Book, and Youth Leadership. Drop-In is a structured mentoring after school program that involves bike repairs and planned activities, while Earn a Book is a reading and homework help program that allows students to earn their own book after 18 hours of work over a period of weeks. Youth Leadership is a bi-weekly meeting for our older students to discuss topics of leadership and how they can become better leaders.
I first started volunteering at CBW in the fall of 2011, assisting the teaching of the Earn a Bike class. I then became a volunteer with the Drop-In program, and then began an internship in the spring of 2012. Through this internship, CBW offered me a job as a program aid. As a program aide, I assist in the upkeep and execution of our Earn a Bike and Drop-In programs. Essentially, I teach kids how to fix bikes, play games with them, and listen to what they have to say. The relationships I have formed with my students mean the world to me, and I hope that I can be a positive influence in their lives. Leaving for grad school is going to be hard, so I make the most of my time here and do the best I can to teach and laugh and to learn from our future.