I am a Bike Club volunteer

Zulmarie Hernandez, Celia Clinton Volunteer

Zulmarie HernandezPublic schools are charged with the mission to educate all children. Bike Club also meets all of our students where they are. In this effort, Bike Club frequently looks for volunteers from the surrounding communities. This includes both English and Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. Bike Club welcomes all Spanish-speaking volunteers to help Spanish-speaking children.

We recently had a chance to speak with a volunteer from Celia Clinton Elementary on North Harvard, Zulmarie Hernandez. Because Zulmarie is from Puerto Rico and her English is better than this author’s Spanish, Bere Alcatraz was kind enough to interpret for us.

Many of Celia Clinton’s students speak English as a second language and find it easier to learn from a Spanish speaker. Hernandez’s son attends Celia Clinton and wanted to be a part of Bike Club from the moment he heard about it.

"I started volunteering because my son always wanted to be in a bicycle club," Hernandez said. As soon as she started telling her story she glowed with pride in her son’s effort and her own story as well.

Zulmarie Hernandez"I decided to volunteer just to see my son," Hernandez said.

She says that her son is thrilled with Bike Club and the bike skills he’s learning and the friends he is making at school. But Hernandez notices a change at home too.

She says her son was not the best listener, "Whenever we were at home he did not follow directions," she said, showing her exasperation with her son back then by rolling her eyes as she thought about it.

Then her smile returned. "But now," she said, "he does follow instructions!"

Being involved at Bike Club made their relationship stronger while he learned. Volunteering has made the relationship stronger because he has to listen to her at Bike Club and that carries over to home.

The secret to the success is how much her son has taken to Bike Club. Hernandez said that her son is even asking about finding a cycling group after Bike Club. Hernandez also says he has learned a lot about bike handling and safety.

What was unexpected was how much she learned too.

"I learned how to ride a bike safely and use hand signals. How to wear a helmet. My son has been helping too," she said, laughing.

"It brought us closer together," said Hernandez.

Although she has been riding bikes since she was a little girl, Hernandez did not know much about bicycles.

"I have scars on my legs from when I learned how to ride a bike," she laughed. "But now that I am in Bike Club, I learned a lot and am more comfortable."

And that knowledge is passed down in their family.

"Everything I am learning," Hernandez said, "I also teach my younger daughter."

"She is not in Bike Club," Hernandez paused, " ... yet."

Zulmarie HernandezThis carries over to helping every young woman along the way to ride safer and be more comfortable around bikes. "I try to motivate every woman or girl or kid to be in Bike Club."

This effort does not stop at Bike Club. It returns home for Hernandez. "During the summer, my family is planning on riding bikes in the summer to stay active," she said.

And she hopes to influence her community. "There are so many people who ride bikes in Tulsa. We try to get the whole family to go ride and teach their other family members what they learned," she explained.

These efforts come easy for Hernandez. And it’s easy to see why when she explains what Bike Club means to her.

"I do this with all of my heart and I love to be a volunteer. It got me from my daily routine and now I get more time with my son," she explained.

Hernandez says she gets to know more people. She learns English quickly too.

The other thing Hernandez enjoys is that her Bike Club team uses her ideas to help students.

She said the other day she got the pride of giving two students a lifetime memory.

"Two little girls, who didn’t know how to ride a bike," Hernandez said, "but now they do."

Hernandez smiled, "It makes my heart happy this happened."

If you would like to make your heart happy and be a part of Bike Club, please contact us.

Read more volunteer stories

Stories by: Andy Wheeler
Photography by: Melissa Lukenbaugh