Meet Anthony Chungben.
“This wheel is out of tune, so I’m tuning it up so it fits in the breaks better," Chungben said.
Chungben is a wrench. That’s what volunteers for the non-profit organization Wheels4Workers are called.
"It’s just a fun thing to do. I like fixing bikes. Typically I fix 3 to 4 bikes a week and just continue doing it," Chungben said.
The bikes are donated by the public, fixed up by Wheels4Workers volunteers, and then are given to refugees for free. John Hannon, who goes by the nickname 'Blue,' is the organizer of Wheels4Workers. He says had experience hiring refugees at a recycling company in Tonawanda.
"I got to realize that one of the biggest barriers for a new neighbor here coming to the U.S. is no way to get to work, so we had fixed bicycles for our employees 8 or 9 months and use the bus the other time. And after a couple of years, they have a driver’s license. They’ve saved up some money, they’re able to get a car, and learn English," Blue said.
Blue says those first couple of years are critical, so he started Wheels for Workers to help refugees early on. The non-profit kicked off in April and works with Journey’s End, a refugee resettlement service.
"The main thing we’re finding is that there’s so much demand. We bring bikes to Journey’s End on a Monday, by Monday afternoon they’re all gone. So while we’re producing about 25 a week, we could probably…wouldn’t even meet the demand if we had a 100 a week," Blue said.
Blue says they’re planning to work with other refugee services in the area, but haven’t had enough bikes to be able to do so yet. That’s why they’re in need of more volunteers and donations. Bikes can be dropped off or can be picked up volunteers.
"We’ll take any bike, regardless of the condition. We can use parts from them, fix 'em and anything. We never turn a bike down," Mark Mitri, a volunteer, said.
If you’d like to drop a bicycle off, you can do so at 4007 Main Street in Eggertsville. You can also call 716-835-0407 for more information.