A Missoula nonprofit that gives away bicycles and helps people learn to fix them is under the gun to raise enough money to buy a permanent home in Missoula.
The community bike shop, called Free Cycles, has been a Missoula institution for the last twenty years. It provides bikes and training to people based on what they can afford to donate. And it only has two more weeks to raise $385,000.
Bob Giordano is Free Cycles’ Executive Director.
“In October of last year, we found out there were some serious buyers for the property that Free Cycles has existed on for 11 years. So we went to the landlords and the realtor, and made a pitch, could we have an opportunity to raise the money and buy the property.”
They originally hoped to raise 1.1 million dollars by Mother’s Day to buy the property outright.
So far, they’ve raised $150,000.
Giordano says that if they reach 35% of their original goal, “that is enough of a down payment that we can likely secure financing, and obtain the property.”
The fundraising efforts include concerts, raffles, and placing change jars at local businesses around town.
Giordano says they’re likely to receive a $100,000 loan right before the deadline.
That leaves them needing to raise $135,000 by the first of July if they want to remain in their present location.
“We provide free bike services for all people in the community and beyond. We provide parts, tools, help. We’re kind of a one-stop for your bicycle needs.”
With the money, Giordano says FreeCycles plans to expand their services.
“We will do a community bike-share. Imagine a public library, except you’re checking bikes out. A bike hostel, a pavement testing ground, a snack bar or cafe if you will. More and more we’re fabricating bike trailers, parking racks, three wheel bikes, four wheel bikes, recumbents, fun bikes.
The opportunity is pretty immense. So we’re careful not to prescribe exactly how this two acre and 28,000 square foot building will look like in the future. This is more of a green print than a blueprint.”
Despite the difficulty meeting their financial goal, Giordano says he’s been enjoying the fundraising process.
“We didn’t really want a big check written right off the bat. That would not have been as much fun, or as engaging, or as expansive. Meaning we’re now involving a lot of people, we’re getting our mission out there, we’re trying to inspire that social justice, that environmental justice, and get people thinking about bikes and what is the future of Missoula?”
Giordano emphasizes that Cycles of Change is not just about the dollar figures themselves.
“Yes we have to raise some money. But it’s building a movement. It’s continuing a community effort.”
For more info, visit Free Cycles' Cycles of Change website.