I am a Bike Club volunteer
Joseph White, former Bike Club student turned volunteer
You don't always get to see the fruits of your labor. You don't always get the reward of knowing your volunteer efforts make a difference. This is especially true working with kids and young adults. Bike Club volunteers rarely get to their kids again.
You do your best and hope it works out. You are never 100% certain though. You hope, blindly, your efforts make a difference.
That's the definition of faith.
Joseph White is 21 years old. He is a graduate of Nathan Hale High School. He first became aware of Bike Club in 2017. He was a freshman.
"I was kind dragged into it," explained White. Joseph had a friend who was passionate about bikes. Joseph's friend told him to come to the principal's office with him. Joseph asked why. His friend gave no details just that he was accompanying him. They sat down with the principal.
"Then my friend says to the principal, ‘Me and my friend want to start a bike club at [Nathan] Hale,'" laughed White.
The principal thought it was a good idea too. Soon after, the Nathan Hale Rolling Rangers were launched.
White knew nothing about Bike Club. When he first learned about it, he was skeptical. "Initially I was one of those kids who thought this would be lame," said White. That's understandable. Especially in the disconnected nature of smart phones and era of quick gratification.
"But once I got into it and realized the community is so close-knit, that everything they do within that group is just so fun," explained White. "It changes your way of thinking about community interaction and being socially involved."
Bike Club fueled a new passion for cycling in White. "It shifted my mindset," said White. Bike Club gave White a sense of confidence and stability. "I always have somebody there for me," said White. "I can always have fun. If something is stressful, I can get on my bike. It's like meditation. It is a stress reliever."
White turned this love of bikes into more avenues than just Bike Club. With the encouragement of his Bike Club advocate and National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) coach, Adam Vanderburg, White started racing bikes too.
"Adam saw something in me specifically," said White. "He kept pushing me. I started racing NICA. He put me in cyclocross. He put me into mountain biking."
Added White, "It was having somebody there to encourage you and provide you with opportunities to do great things that's what motivated me."
The more White talks about those days racing, the quicker his cadence gets. You can tell he loved it. "I raced nationally. I was so involved with it. It was a burning passion."
White went from not sure about the Bike Club to fully invested.
Once White graduated, life intervened with his involvement with racing. White had to work and could not devote all his spare time to racing. But he still felt the drive to be involved.
"The passion was always there," said White. "I decided that I was going to volunteer. If I'm not going to race, I am going to be active in the community."
He mentioned this to Adam. Adam said the Bike Club could definitely use more volunteers.
White began volunteering with the Lindbergh Bike Club after he graduated from Hale. He was joined by Jamie Issacs and Andres Pineda.
What might seem extraordinary to some, it's simply returning the belief that Bike Club showed in him.
"I got that drive to volunteer from Adam," said White.
White works at a local printing company. He still rides when he can. "I want to urban ride," said White. "It's scary but the community gives me the strength to do so."
He is dreaming beyond just the bike though. White plans to go to school to be a chiropractor.
"Mainly because it supports a healthy lifestyle. And it would be a good supplement for bike riding," added White.
"I love education in general. I don't like it if I'm not learning."
Asked what he learned through Bike Club, White thought for a moment.
Pondered his answer thoughtfully and responded with a list of lessons from Bike Club as a student and a volunteer.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help. Take the opportunity to improve. And don't let the improvement of others lower your self-esteem," said White, confidently.
Instead of a spectator, White seems like he is in control of the direction he is headed.
Before we left our interview, I asked him about his Bike Club students.
He spoke with the pride every volunteer understands. It is the satisfaction of seeing their efforts make a difference in the lives of their students, "There's a kid here now and we all support him. There's no limit," said White.
"You don't just stop getting better."
If you want to keep getting better and improve the lives of students through Bike Club, please contact us.
Stories by: Andy Wheeler
Photography by: Melissa Lukenbaugh