CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Brunswick Police Department and Grace Baptist Church have made good on a promise to get refurbished bicycles into the hands of deserving individuals.
Last weekend, volunteers rode more than 200 bikes through the streets of Cleveland. Their final stop was at the organization Building Hope in the City which helps refugees transition to life in America and Northeast Ohio. They offer English and citizenship classes as well as tutoring.
"It was just a phenomenal atmosphere," said Dr. Richard Powers, senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church.
Earlier this summer, the Brunswick Police Department partnered with the church's 're-Cycle' bike repair ministry. The police department was inundated with lost and stolen bikes never claimed by their owners. Officers decided it was better to donate the bikes rather than let them rust or go to auction. Dozens of the bikes gifted to Building Hope in the City came from the police department.
"They provided bicycles to each and every people- even my son," said Khada, a Bhutanese refugee.
Khada came to the U.S. in 2011 from a refugee camp in Nepal. He lived in New Hampshire for several years before moving to Cleveland. Khada said his teenage son is grateful for the bike he received. Khada said his son is using it to get to school, run errands and just have fun.
"Everybody's glad to get the bicycle," Khada said. "It's wonderful health. We are getting good health."
Eileen Wilson is the director of refugee ministries at Building Hope in the City. She said the bicycle donation is knocking down barrier
"It's a great way to say, 'You know, there's other people in the community who appreciate what you've been through, and we want to help,'" Wilson said. "It was great to see police and other Americans they knew come and help them."
Pastor Powers said faith is the driving force behind the bike ministry which has sent hundreds of bikes across the country and around the world.
"Every little kindness seemed to just light them up," Powers said. "They need to know that there are folks waiting here and really do care about their life and their situation. Their circumstances are not easy."
Betu is another Bhutanese refugee using the center in Cleveland. She and her two sons received new bikes.
"That's good, I like," Betu said.
She and Khada said Building Hope in the City is a welcoming place. They said the people of Cleveland and their generosity make the city a perfect place to call home.
"America is a wonder country, a wonderful country," Khada said. "I'm here to get a freedom, so it's a free country. I want to live in a free country."