Shivon Love's first day as Director of Youth Programs was on MLK Day and she was ready! Shivon joined us around 10am, introduced herself to youth, and right away started building positive relationships, both with youth in our Leadership and Advanced Mechanics Course and with her new NBW co-workers. She buddied up with several youth who were nervous about attending their first march and offered calmness, encouragement, and support.
It isn't surprising that Shivon has stepped into her role with grace and warmth - our hiring committee was impressed with her proven success in developing positive relationships with both youth and coworkers and bringing a style of leadership that encourages and empowers those around her. Shivon sees her role at NBW to support youth and youth program staff while pushing the cycling community and industry to become more inclusive and accessible, especially to the youth in our programs.
This month, Liz Pisarczyk, our Program Director for the past four and a half years, is leaving her role at Neighborhood Bike Works. Liz has accomplished a ton while at NBW, and has served as an incredibly dedicated advocate for Philadelphia youth during that time.
Liz initially came to NBW in the summer of 2008 as a work-study intern while in her Masters of Social Work program at UPenn. She returned in 2011 as a site manager at NBW's headquarters at St. Mary's Church, and in August of 2012 Liz became our Program Director.
Reflecting on her time at NBW, Liz says that "the faces have changed, and the community continues to grow stronger." Staff that Liz has worked alongside have had such a positive impact, Liz says, "and their presence is still strong."
If you've visited NBW or seen us at community events in the last three years, it's likely you've met and been charmed by either Joshua or Gerry. Both are at NBW several days a week - assisting students in after-school programs, recruiting youth to NBW, drafting agendas, and leading meetings. We're seriously indebted to this often unrecognized and inventive pair.
I sat down with both of them to learn more about the Youth Council and Board of Directors which, respectively, they advise. We had a conversation about NBW's recent history and their vision for NBW's future.
To offer some background, Joshua is 17 years old and is President of NBW's Youth Council. Gerry is a long-time NBW volunteer (nine years) and is NBW's Board President. They each manage advisory boards and have rich histories participating and volunteering with our programs. When asked which programs they've completed or volunteered with, both listed every single program that NBW offers - a total of approximately 15 distinct NBW programs!
This October, NBW joined the annual West Philly Peoplehood Parade organized by Spiral Q, another youth non-profit located on Lancaster Avenue. We've been joining this artistic celebration of community activism for years, but this year might have been the most meaningful yet. We participated with youth, parents, volunteers, and staff carrying a banner that youth had prepared in advance of the parade. We engaged NBW youth graduates through a banner-making workshop centered around the theme of this year's parade: "We All Might Be Giant."
This theme called on participants to think of themselves not as isolated individuals, but as part of a larger social organism capable of standing up to oppression and stamping it out. Our banner read "These Issues Matter" and provided space for youth and parade participants of all ages to list issues that matter to them. Messages such as, “Black Lives Matter,” “mass incarceration,” “education,” and “women’s rights,” found their place on our banner.
It is 9:00 AM and the campers just finished eating breakfast at NBW. Now the young cyclists are tossing two colorful balls around in a circle, a game organized by the youth counselors to get the younger youth to remember everyone’s name. “Chris to Nasir”, “Nasir to Simone”. The soft balls fly around the shop as everyone masters the names and settles in for the day.
After the game is complete youth pull from the rack the NBW fleet bike they are borrowing for camp. They put their helmets on, and begin doing an ‘ABC quick check’ on their bikes. During this second of week of camp the Air, Brake, Chain (ABC) checks are routine. The youth assess these basic components before every ride. It isn’t long before the campers are lined up and ready to ride along the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) to Paine’s Park where they will try out the ramps on their bikes.
Every morning at camp, youth wheel their bikes outside and ride to various destinations – Mill Creek Farm, Bartram’s Garden, Woodlands Cemetery, Cobbs Creek, and more. In the afternoon they are back in our education hub to share lunch, chat with new friends, and work on the bikes they will take home at the end of the camp.
We've created a resource for youth to find jobs, internships, and other personal development opportunities. Click the link above!
Our monthly Adult Repair Class covers basic bike repair and maintenance. The class meets four Mondays in a row and registration is open!