When Chris Campbell, a client at HVAF of Indiana, Inc., opened the door to his Indianapolis, Ind. bedroom one July day, he discovered a new red Raleigh road bike. This was better than any Christmas or birthday present he could imagine because a bike opened up many possibilities and freedoms. Chris was no longer limited to walking everywhere, including work. Campbell’s story was the focus of a helping veterans article published in The Indianapolis Star.
Campbell’s new bike was assembled in a room at the Putnamville Correctional Facility. A work line has been set up for Shifting Gears, a partnership of Bicycle Garage Indy, Volunteers of America, and the Indiana Department of Correction. Donated bikes are refurbished and then given to nonprofits, like HVAF.
The goal is to provide work opportunities to non-violent offenders and help build self-worth in preparation for re-entry into the community. There are plenty of bikes that need a home.
Campbell has called HVAF home since April 19, 2011. He served as army medic in the 1980’s, and worked as a nurse for a live-in client until a disagreement left him out of work and in need of a place to stay. Campbell wasn’t proud of his past but he was able to get a new job as a nurse at long-term care facility.
“I’m happy that these guys are able to get to places and do not have to walk. The bike really helps, and it’s a great way to help our clients stay active,” says Kalisha Hayes, a case manager at HVAF.
HVAF has used Shifting Gears frequently, ordering close to 100 bikes in recent years. The day the last batch came, Hayes picked out a two-wheeler for each veteran.
“It gives you the freedom to enjoy life, to enjoy nice days,” says Campbell.