2007 Prize Winner
Follow Neal Armstrong down a narrow staircase in the back of Northeast Alberta Streets Community Cycling Center, and youre suddenly immersed in a singular world.
Hundreds of bikes of all makes and sizes and in all states of disrepair are everywhere: adult mountain bikes hung from ceiling racks, mountains of childrens bikes stacked on the floor, every open space filled with boxes of used parts awaiting a new life.
Amazingly, there is order amid all this chaos thanks in no small measure to the centers 29-year-old volunteer and
Armstrong speaks affectionately of the many programs that will become homes for these bikesalmost all donated to the Center, where they are cleaned and refurbished before being passed along.
There is the Create a Commuter Program, in which low-income adults get a bicycle complete with lights, lock, helmet and rack to help with their commuting needs. Or Armstrongs baby, the Holiday Bike Drive, in which every December, 500 bikes are provided to underprivileged children.
It is Armstrongs job to organize these volunteer-fueled projects while creating an environment that feels rewarding to everyone involved.
By any measure, he has succeeded. CCC has built up a staggering volunteer base to help with its cycling-related programsmore than 2,000 people donated 16,500 hours of their time last year. But Armstrong, who has been with CCC for two yearsafter finishing a Peace Corps stint in West Africaisnt content simply with big numbers.
I want to promote and provide volunteer opportunities that engage deeper than just coming in for a couple of hours, he says. Armstrong sees volunteering, which he has been involved with in one shape or another since high school in Tucson, as a way for people to become more involved and invested in their community.
This organization and my job are a perfect blend of everything I want to work for, he says of CCC. It creates opportunities for the community through volunteering, and it gets people on bikes, giving them the confidence and freedom to get outside.
As a measure of the Centers success, he points to the number of people who repeatedly volunteer, people with all different levels of mechanical skills who continue to spend their free time preparing the rows and stacks of bikes for a new life on the road.
Weve transferred the goals of the organization to the goals of the community, says Armstrong, surrounded by bicycles in all directions. People have a place here.