In a quintessential definition of the term “Pay It Forward,” Arlington’s John Thielman founded the non-profit organization ShareFest-Texas, which brings organizations and people together to help those in need in the greater Arlington area. During this unprecedented time, Sharefest has launched a project to put bikes in the hands of people who need transportation to go to work.
“ShareFest-Texas exists to creatively collaborate with young leaders, community service organizations and business partners to align our strengths and transform the Arlington community needs into meaningful, completed projects,” Thielman explains.
“SFT’s mission is to grow youth leaders who can lead in any situation – who have confidence, feel empowered, and have the raw skills to take an idea and transform it into a completed project. Youth leaders need more than classroom experience; they need actual projects to develop these skills.”
One of the many projects ShareFest does is picking up donatable items and bringing them to Arlington Urban Ministries and Mission Arlington. In the process, ShareFest volunteers routinely receive donations of used bicycles. Thielman recalls that shortly after Trek Bicycles of Arlington opened, he asked the staff there to collaborate. ShareFest would collect the used bikes through donation, and Trek would refurbish them, making them almost like new. After the bikes were refurbished, ShareFest and Trek Bicycle donated them to Arlington Urban Ministries and Mission Arlington, hoping specifically to help people have a means of transportation to go to and from work.
Thielman says this has become a larger effort during the Covid-19 crisis. And he is especially proud of many of his neighbors who have collaborated on the project.
“As I live in Viridian, a vast majority of the bikes originate from the neighborhood,” he says. “Additionally, as the popularity of biking has grown during this crisis, Arlington riders have been taking their used bikes to the store and buying new ones. The used bikes are re-furbed with SFT paying the cost, and those bikes are taken to Arlington Urban Ministries and ultimately to the clients. Trek has delivered the bikes to AUM free of charge as the volume continues to grow. Bottom line, it’s a great example of collaboration among the Viridian community, three Chamber members and charity organizations to fulfill a largely invisible need that makes Arlington a better community.”
If you would like to get involved or have a bicycle to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find more information about ShareFest-Texas, visit sharefest-texas.org.