Lindsey Gifford, McNellie's Group, Operating Partner (Tavern and Bull in the Alley)
With two busy restaurants to operate, a new marriage, three dogs and a new house, Lindsey Gifford was 100% positive there was no way she had time to volunteer. There was no time. Zero. There was absolutely no time to do anything else.
Anything. No way. At all.
"I work 50-60 hours a week," said Gifford. "I initially did not think I would have time."
"I kept seeing the [Bike Club] kids riding by the front of the Tavern," said Gifford. "We have those big windows and I would see the kids ride by and ended up having some mutual friends that participated in the program." Gifford's mind started to wonder. It did look like fun. She could at least check.
It turned out to be far easier than she thought.
"I found a Bike Club [Emerson Elementary] that is close to my business," said Gifford. "It was so nice to find one that was close. I can just pop over there for a couple hours and it flies by."
What about people thinking about volunteering? What about the time involved?
"There are schools all over Tulsa," replied Gifford. "Bike Club is way less of a time commitment than people think."
Gifford is also quick to point out how easy volunteering for Bike Club is too. She was, "not at all involved in cycling — barely a bike rider. Barely," laughed Gifford. "The kids are learning with you. We are all baby deer on bikes together. It's fun!"
Being a woman volunteer has its advantages as well. The girls like to have another woman with them. "They love to have another girl to hang out with and talk to," said Gifford.
Earlier this year, a young girl showed up who did not know how to ride a bike ... yet. Gifford spent an entire session working with this young girl where she had almost figured it out. It was so close. On the next class the girl figured it out within minutes. It is not just about learning to ride a bike in Bike Club — it is also about building trust and relationships between volunteers and students. And Gifford has built a tremendous amount of trust with many of the Bike Club kids — not just girls — because of the joy she brings to each and every Bike Club class.
Now in her third year as a Bike Club volunteer, Gifford sees many traits from running a stressful, complex operation, that are beneficial to Bike Club. "For me, as a restaurateur, we have to put on a brave face — even when it's difficult or we're not having the best time. I try to bring that to Bike Club. If it's cold or they're tired, I try to find ways to make it fun and find laughter even if it is cold and we are all a bit miserable. 'Hey, we're still on bikes and we're together and we're having fun!'"
Asked what she thinks about her current Bike Club, Gifford is quick to heap praise on her kids, "Our group of kids this year are the sweetest! I just have not been around a group of kids that have been this sweet to work with. I have just loved them all year."
What is Gifford looking forward to the rest of the year?
"I am looking forward to warmer weather," said Gifford. "Now that we have all of our riders on the same level, I am looking forward to doing more field trips with them and showing them around downtown a little bit. It's so much fun."
Learn more about how you can make a difference here.