Meet Julie. She is a young, hardworking, Brooklynite holding down two jobs. Julie relied heavily on her bicycle to commute to work and around the city. Unfortunately, her bike was stolen a few months ago. Although it was important, replacing her bike could not be her number one priority. Considering that a hot dog may cost $15 in some parts of the city, Julie needed to make sure she could eat. Julie had no choice, but to revert back to a combination of mass transit and walking. Fortunately, that changed on 4/26/15 when we met up to give her one of the Brooklyn Cruisers. (Check out this story for details on the journey to Julie).
Although it is wonderful that Julie is pedaling again, how we connected is even more amazing!
At Bike and Brain we want to make sure that each bike we give away is provided to the right person. This is by no means a strict screening process, but we want the person to really benefit from the bike. Otherwise, we would just leave the bikes lined up on the sidewalk with “FREE” signs attached.
Unless it’s a dirty couch or a hot bag of dog poop, nothing in NYC is free. So it has been interesting to say “Hey I am giving away this bike because I really think it could be great. Do you want it?” Some people return a blank stare and others think it’s a gimmick. I have learned that it actually takes a little work to find the right people.
I was hoping things would begin to fall into place after giving away the first two bikes (check that out here). Although it has not been the next viral sensation, things have done just that… they have fallen into place. Hence, how I met Julie.
I’ve briefly mentioned my faith as an important part of Bike and Brain. Not in the sense that it is a religious organization. In fact, it’s not that at all. Rather, I use my faith to guide the direction of Bike and Brain. One of the ways in which this occurs is through prayer. Now I know some people are thinking, “wow, that’s really strange” or “that definitely doesn’t work” and that’s fine. The idea of prayer can be abstract and I get that. I mean, how can I get answers and direction by simply asking a God who may not “speak” back? That’s a fantastic question, but it’s happened and not just once. It has happened continuously throughout the development of Bike and Brain. I will share more examples later, but for now let’s focus on Julie.
I tend to pray at night or throughout the day. This doesn’t look like some bizarre ritual. I don’t stare into the sun or chant. In fact, you probably wouldn’t know prayer was occurring. Also, the language isn’t different than my everyday speech. You would be surprised. A swear or two even slips in. Anyway, I have always prayed for Bike and Brain. I recall asking exactly this “please provide the direction for Bike and Brain and help me find the right people to give bikes to”.That’s all I said and I didn’t get some magical response. The perfect person didn’t just appear in my living room. However, shortly after I prayed that simple prayer I got an answer!
I was checking my emails after work and I had received one from a guy named Johnny. I had no clue who Johnny was. We had no mutual friends on Facebook!
His email was this:
My name is Johnny. I host this group with a woman who has grown to be a friend over the course of this last year. We were kind of smashed together and told to lead a group of people. It’s been a crazy ride, but two weeks ago we celebrated a year doing it. And we’ve sent some people out to different places, and built some up, none of it could have been done without my friend Julie.
Julie loves to bike. She rides around from Bensonhurst, yes it is a real part of Brooklyn, to the ends of New York. She actually encouraged me to start riding last summer, and I got my own wheels and have been doing it ever since. Jules has the absolute worst luck. We were supposed to hang out today but she just texted me and said that her bike was stolen… AGAIN. This is the third time in as many years that this has happened. All from high traffic areas, Coney Island, Barclay’s center, and now another Brooklyn neighborhood in Carroll Gardens. It’s not where she locks it, it’s just a string of unfortunate occurrences. I know that you may have candidate for this, but I ask you to consider Julie. She isn’t new to the game but I think it may be even worse to have had a bike and lost it through no fault of your own, than to have never experienced the thrill of the ride at all. In any case. She’s an amazing woman of God, Babysitter, and Food truck employee. This bike would really be a blessing for her. Thanks for your time.”
Yea! I had to read that a few times to make sure I was comprehending properly. After I processed this email I already knew this was an answered prayer, but I just wanted to make sure. So I asked Johnny what type of bike Julie had. Keep in mind that right before this email I had received a generous donation of 4 dutch commuter bikes from the Brooklyn Bike Co. This style of bike is not all that common, but what type of bike do you think Julie had? A dutch style commuter bike! “Kiddddiiinnnggg me with this!”, I said out loud. I mean, it lined up flawlessly. Just to make it clear, this is what happened:
1. I prayed a simple prayer for guidance and direction for Bike and Brain
2. I received a random donation of dutch commuter bikes (at the time I did not know who they would go to)
3. Shortly after the donation I received an email from Johnny (a stranger at the time) about Julie needing a replacement dutch commuter.
4.Julie is back on a bike
Take it or leave it, but it does not get much clearer than that. My prayer was answered. This experience made this particular donation very unique. Not only could we get Julie pedaling again, but the connection was special and we both knew that. There was no doubt that Julie was the right person for this bike!
I look forward to seeing where Julie goes with this bike as I know it will be incredible. Ride on Julie!
-Bike and Brain