I am a Bike Club volunteer

Kent Zwayer, Zebco, Sr. Project Engineer

Kent ZwayerAs Bike Club grows, the foundation remains. Bike Club grew from the work done by our first volunteers. Volunteers that believe in the value of showing up. Volunteers that find joy in working with children. Every single step Bike Club has made from our nascent days at Emerson Elementary is a testament to the work our first volunteers provided.

Kent Zwayer was one of our first volunteers who answered the call. Some years back, Zwayer participated in a similar program at Eugene Field sponsored by First Methodist but had disbanded. "I have always gotten some kind of value working with kids," said Zwayer. "I got away from it for a few years and I missed it."

When Zwayer saw a post on Facebook asking for volunteers for a new Bike Club at Emerson, Zwayer thought, "I'd like to do that again!" So, he showed up for the first Bike Club in 2014.

The 2018-2019 school year finds Zwayer at Unity Learning Academy (formerly Jackson Elementary) for his fifth year. "It was one of the schools that Bike Club was expanding to," said Zwayer. "They needed some person to be the lead volunteer, so I moved over there. It's just a mile from where I work at Zebco so it was real handy also!"

Kent ZwayerNot only does Zwayer have his full-time job but also a son and a guardian to his niece. With all of these obligations for his time, why does Zwayer continue serving his community through Bike Club? "It's rewarding. You know you are doing something good for somebody else. Maybe helping somebody else out. It's not altruistic because I get rewarded, personally. From being around the kids. Just their energy level, curiosity, spontaneity... It keeps you thinking young!" Zwayer laughed.

One of the many advantages of Bike Club is the partnership with Tulsa Public Schools and the supportive faculty. Unity's faculty representative is Terrance Buckley. Buckley has been nothing short of a modern-day super hero for the students at Unity. "He's the most direct champion with the kids," said Zwayer. "He is already very active with the students. He's the PE coach and he works after school with soccer teams and basketball teams. He is actually starting up a basketball league."

Together, Zwayer and Buckley managed the expectations of Bike Club and student participation while maintaining all the fun and smiles kids get from participating. Their successful collaboration is reflected in increased attendance and improved scholastic achievement for Bike Club students involved.

Kent ZwayerFor Zwayer, his service has led to amazing relationships with current students and Bike Club alumni, "I'll see them [former students] when I am at the school. And they are always talking about what they are doing on their bikes. Seeing the kids doing well and being happy with their situation... I don't know what else to say." Zwayer pauses. You can tell Bike Club means the world to him, seeing these successful children that he has helped along their journey.

"We are teaching them safety," adds Zwayer on the value of volunteerism and his motivations. "Rules of the road and how to handle the bike. Maybe that's kind of a parental thing. You always want the next generation to have more than you did and this is one way to invest in it."

Learn more about how you can invest your time here.

Stories by: Andy Wheeler
Photography by: Melissa Lukenbaugh