Since he was a child, Russ Durham had a knack for fixing bikes.
- Russ Durham was surprised how many homeless were riding on unsafe bikes
- Durham, Rowland Kenna volunteer their time, skills to help homeless ride again
“I like to work with my hands and take things apart,” said Durham, the founder of 7th Day ReCYCLEry.
When Durham was volunteering several years ago at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Durham noticed a need. He noticed that someone had an old bike tire that had lost all of its rubber, yet Durham says a homeless man was still riding on it.
“He didn’t have the $5 to buy a tube, so he took string and cord and pieces of rug and wrapped it around this tire,” explained Durham.
Durham kept the tire after he gave the man a new, working tire. He still has the tire to remind him just how much some people need good working bikes.
He says some risk their lives riding ones that are falling apart.
“I know several men who’ve collided with moving cars because they didn’t have any brakes,” said Durham.
For years, Durham pieced together parts, fixed up dozens of bikes and gave them to the homeless.
But as a full-time teacher, Durham needed some help. Two years ago, he began teaching his neighbor Rowland Kenna how to get bikes rolling again.
“We’re able to help one person at a time and we use the skills we have and we do the best that we can,” said Durham.
Now, with the help of several volunteers, the two crank out hundreds of fixed-up bikes to those in need each year.
“They’re pretty much down at the bottom about as low as you can get, and giving them a bicycle gives them freedom, independence and dignity at a time when they really, really need it,” said Kenna.
Longwood's 7th Day ReCYCLEry, with support from Markham Woods Church, works with a dozen Central Florida charities to turn donated broken-down bikes into working forms of transportation for the homeless.
“Any size bike, any age, any condition, any value, we’re glad to pick them up,” said Durham.
They are seeing so much demand, they must be organized and efficient. Their goal is to get as many bikes to people who need them as possible.
“We know how to use our hands to help people and give them hope and get them back on the road, and that’s what we’re about,” said Durham.
If you would like to donate a bike or money to 7th Day ReCYCLEry, or volunteer, you can reach Russ Durham at 1-407-729-1102. You can arrange a pick-up through Rowland Kenna by calling him at 1-407-951-3968.
You can also email 7th Day ReCYCLEry at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the group on its Facebook page.