SANDPOINT — For the fourth year, Bike and Build riders made their way through Sandpoint this past weekend as they near the end of their cross-country journey.
The mission of Bike and Build is to benefit affordable housing efforts and empower young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement. As such, the group riding the northern route through Sandpoint has helped Bonner Homeless Transitions with a variety of projects over the years. The group, which changes each year but is always a young crowd between the ages of 18 and 29, is always willing to tackle any project, said BHT program manager Joanne Barlow.
“They are a wonderful, fun loving group of young men and women, and wanting to learn about the plight of the homeless across the United States and volunteer in any way they can,” Barlow said in an email to the Daily Bee.
The 26 riders on Bike and Build’s northern route this year began their 3,700-mile trip in Portsmouth, N.H., on June 10 and are nearing the end of their journey, which will come to a close in on Aug. 27 in Bellingham, Wash. There are eight Bike and Build routes that go from the East Coast to the West Coast. Along with the long daily rides, the northern group will have stopped at 13 nonprofits along the way to assist them with building, painting, cleaning and other tasks. Each of the riders also raised at least $5,000, which goes to affordable housing and helps fund the trip. BHT was the second to last build for the group.
The first two years, riders helped out at BHT’s Blue Haven home, though last year they helped out at Trestle Creek property as it was converted to single-family rental homes for individuals who make less than 80 percent of the area median income. The group was back at Blue Haven this past Sunday, however, where they painted the large storage garage, with all the paint donated by In and Out Painting in Ponderay, Barlow said.
“They also installed privacy slats in the chain link fence surrounding our play yard, to assure our children are safe,” she said, adding that the materials for that project were donated by Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Dover. “... A lot of planning goes into this project every year, and kudos to the many local businesses and Sandpoint residents that are part of this two-day event.
Holy Spirit Episcopal Church also donated all the funds to feed the group a “hearty” lunch and dinner, and Pizza Hut provided a substantial discount on pizza for lunch, Barlow said. The Methodist Church showed up with five watermelons and cases of bottled water, as well.
In addition, the First Presbyterian Church in Sandpoint has hosted the group each year, giving them a place to sleep, feeding them dinner the evening they arrive, as well as breakfast the next day. Mission chairman Dave Pietz said Evans Brothers provided coffee and Uptown Bagel provided a discount for bagels. Pietz said the church is always happy to host the group and provide them with a place to stay and some food.
“They are very educated, interesting people who are great to visit with,” Pietz said. “Their commitment to homeless efforts is very much appreciated.”
Barlow said BHT is excited to welcome another 25 to 30 Bike and Build riders again next year.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.