By Kira Judge, Co-Chair, Saskatoon Cycles
If you are new to Saskatoon, volunteering for Saskatoon Cycles events is one of the best ways to find like-minded, self-empowered, self-reliant, and open-minded friends.
Way back in 2007 when Robert and I were new to Saskatoon, we found our best friend Blaine through a cycling event. He is a veteran volunteer with the Saskatoon Cycles Bike Valet program. As an aside, I’ll take this opportunity to extend a big thank you — on behalf of our board — to all our veteran volunteers, including Tom, Linda, Rob, Navine, Ben, Jeff, Xiaomin, Christal, and the list goes….Your support and dedication is so appreciated and welcome.
At the Bike Valet for this year’s SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and Taste of Saskatchewan, I tested my hypothesis again: I volunteered for three shifts and made more new friends (Lana and her son Mateo, Shelly, and Temple) and caught up with many old ones too. People from all over the world come to Saskatoon for many reasons and dreams. Our volunteers — who are well travelled and well read — are so welcoming and accommodating.
Because we needed more volunteers to sign up for Bike Valet shifts, I invited some of my friends and colleagues from work to volunteer with me. This was a great chance to catch up with colleagues and serve those who biked to downtown.
My friend Dinesh, who has not biked for 30 years, was inspired by a few of the empowered people he met who live on their bikes — folks like Rob, who is a veteran SC volunteer and now advisor to our board. Dinesh got his bike tuned up and has been out for a few rides since then. I met Cristina, a graduate student at the U of S who is visiting from Nigeria. I saw Blaine fixing her bike at the Bike Valet too. Who does that, right?
One of the memorable shift for me was meeting a 12-year-old high school student from China who just arrived in Saskatoon a month ago. It was fascinating to watch him park two or three bikes at once. Our veteran volunteer Xiaomin brought him to show what Bike Valet is all about. I hope I cross paths with him again. Xiaomin’s inspiring story is captured in Life on Two Wheels, the video we produced with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
My message is this: If you are feeling lonely and looking for friends, volunteer when we put out the call for help, and stop by our weekly Bikes and Banter meetups. Our mission with these gatherings is to create an inclusive space (emotionally and physically) for everyone. This coming Saturday (August 28) is our last Bikes and Banter meetup at the Reconciliation tower in Victoria park. I hope to see you there!
I believe that the climate change crisis we are experiencing now is making many people feel uncomfortable and anxious. Volunteering with Saskatoon Cycles is a positive thing you can do to reduce your own stress and help make a meaningful contribution to saving our wonderful planet Earth.