“Every kid should have a bike. We want to give them that opportunity,” says Lynn Vardy, a real estate agent with Royal LePage Team Realty in Carleton Place.
For every home Vardy sells, she donates one new bicycle to a child in need, in her client’s name. The bike campaign started in 2016. Last year, Vardy sold 40 homes and is currently in the process of donating 40 bikes through Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (FCSLLG).
FCSLLG is commonly referred to as a child welfare services agency or a children’s aid society. It serves hundreds of children and families throughout the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville region. FCSLLG ensures children are growing up safe from abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect.
Volunteer coordinator at FCSLLG Steve Orr says the bike campaign provides an avenue for people to help. “It lets people know there is way they can help their fellow community members in need,” says Orr. “I think we all have a responsibility to reach out to the community and acknowledge the struggles that families go through.”
It’s common for a family to feel isolated and vulnerable if they do not have access to things they need, whether it’s food in the fridge or a downtime activity to do together.
The bike campaign creates a connection between the family and the community. The family feels less isolated because they know there are people who care, says Orr, who has two children of his own. “It’s all about balance between helping families and addressing the large structural issues in our society that affect a family’s ability to flourish – and that struggle is an experience we’ve all felt in some way or another.”
“I wanted a way to give back in a way that makes sense instead of a closing gift,” Vardy says. Generally, real estate agents give their clients closing gifts when they buy a home to welcome them to their new space. Vardy said she always struggled with buying closing gifts. Now her buyers get information about the bike campaign instead.
The goal for 2017 is another 40 bikes. “We have a goal to work towards with clients and staff instead of just selling houses,” Vardy says. Some buyers have even asked to donate another bike themselves, which Vardy openly welcomes. Orr and Vardy are also looking for sponsors to donate helmets and locks for the bikes being donated now.
Whether it’s riding to a job or to the park to hang out with friends, a bicycle connects people with the community around them.
“Connecting with people should be celebrated but too often the accumulation of wealth is considered more successful instead,” said Orr. “The best thing is that as we grow out of bikes, we pass them on to the next person who needs it.”
For those wanting to donate a new bike, get more info at http://lynnvardy.com/bike-campaign.
This article first appeared in the July issue of Hometown News. Read more of the July issue in our digital version.