I am a Bike Club volunteer

AnnMarie Hayden, Sodexo, Customer Service Manager

AnnMarie HaydenAnnMarie Hayden works as a Customer Service Manager for Sodexo at Tulsa Public Schools. Her job encourages her to volunteer in the community. She chose to volunteer for Bike Club at MacArthur Elementary and Hale Junior High. "I take advantage of the opportunity to work with the kids," said Hayden.

But her volunteer work is not only for the youth she encourages and mentors. It is also for her.

"I grew up in poverty and hunger and abuse," said Hayden. She has turned these experiences into a driving force behind her efforts in Bike Club. "I make Bike Club a priority. There has got to be purpose. You have to keep your head up and look around - in Bike Club and in life."

AnnMarie knows firsthand what many of these children face away from school and Bike Club. She knows what it is like going home and not knowing what will happen from one day to the next. With her difficult background, there is a strong sense of empathy for her Bike Club kids. So AnnMarie talks about her Bike Club kids as they are all her own, "They are loved without judgment and can be appreciated as they are."

AnnMarie HaydenAnnMarie also knows the value of being a female mentor to young women and what Bike Clubs means to girls in the program. "These girls are coming from various places in life. They need someplace to go and be connected," said Hayden. "Girls can go do these things! We don't need to wait around on boys!" Last year's Bike Club attendance reflects a slightly hight number of girls than boys (53.5%). Bike Club advocates for diversity in their volunteer base and always seeks more women volunteers to make sure each child, regardless of gender, succeeds.

AnnMarie knows it is not just about bikes for these kids. Bike Club also provides food, emotional support and affirmation. Bike Club makes a difference in the lives of the children added Hayden.

As much of her heart and soul as she puts into Bike Club, AnnMarie remains humble, "I'm just a girl just trying to help where I can and Bike Club makes it so easy," said Hayden.

"I appreciate being able to give back now."

Sometimes good deeds are not for the world but an act of beautiful selfishness.

Learn more about how you can make a difference here.

Stories by: Andy Wheeler
Photography by: Melissa Lukenbaugh