Local non profit restores 150 bikes, then donates them to fire victims

WHITE CITY, Ore.– Millions of dollars and countless possessions were lost in September to the Almeda Fire.

Victims have had an uphill climb, since then.

One local non-profit says its doing all it can, to help keep them pedaling.

Rico Gutierrez is the founder of Familia Unida, an organization that gives at risk kids the opportunities to get a sense of “United family” while also helping them build their own bikes.

“Being a mentor, its a great responsibility,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Friday and Saturday Gutierrez and the dozens of kids he works with will be giving away over 150 bikes to a community who lost everything.

A charitable action that not many 10 year old kids are already accustomed to.

10 year old volunteers Cassie Clark and Joscelyn Browning said, “Growing up we’ve done a lot of charity and we’ve helped and it feels really good to help people who lost everything to something they can’t control.”

From 11 am to 4 pm on Friday and Saturday, kids and individuals affected by the fires, can come to the arbor house in talent to pick up a new bike.

He says the event is to show fire victims that we’re all in this together.

“It feels great to be able to be a service, being clean and sober has been big to me, and I feel like I need to pay it forward and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past 12 years.”

Gutierrez said the bikes were donated from rogue valley strong, along with members of the community.

They are then restored by himself, and volunteer kids.

He said the teaching aspect he provides to the kids is the most important part of the work he does.

“Letting them be kids is so key to that and you’ve got to just point them in the right direction.”

Its not all work, though.

A day at Familia Unida bike builders wouldn’t be complete without a group cruise.

13 year old volunteer Logan Browning said, “We take a 20 minute bike ride come back, eat dinner, and then we get to work on bikes.”

Gutierrez said later, “To be able to ride a bike in a group like we do it’s awesome to be able to see 20 bikes going down the street and you guys just enjoying the time together.”

Gutierrez said the donation event on Friday and Saturday will be a huge payoff for the kids receiving the bikes but also for those who built them… that these small acts of service are what keep him going in his everyday service.

To him, fixing a rusty chain or a squeaky wheel will always be worth it.

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