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A passion for pedaling turns into volunteering

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Sr. Business Systems Analyst Pearl Fernandes first picked up a bike in 2020 during the pandemic. It was nice outdoors and she wanted to be able to go and explore central Iowa. Pearl is originally from India and moved to the states just a few years ago.

“In India, they don’t have many bike trails and people usually don’t ride bicycles,” said Pearl. “Iowa has such beautiful trails, and the Greater Des Moines Trail System is so wonderfully connected, and I’ve become an experienced trail rider.”

Shortly after Pearl started biking in March 2020, she and her friend decided to bike the entire Great Western Trail External Site from Downtown Des Moines to Martensdale, a total of 42 miles round trip.

“I started biking to get outside, exercise and stay active since we couldn’t go anywhere or do much else,” she said. “But after biking the Great Western Trail, it became a personal accomplishment for me.

Cycling with the Street Collective

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During the pandemic it was very challenging to find a bike that fit what she wanted. So, when Pearl’s friend asked her to go for a ride and offered up her husband’s bike she jumped at the chance. Eventually she found a bike to call her own and signed up for a class at the Franklin Avenue Library called the ABC’s of Cycling to learn more about bikes from the Street Collective External Site, the only Des Moines nonprofit do-it-together bicycle workshop.

The Street Collective accepts donated bikes and refurbishes them for sale at a great price point for someone looking to get their first bike or get back into cycling as an adult. They also donate bicycles to those in need through partnerships with Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, the Des Moines Police and Parks and Recreation Departments. They gave away 362 bicycles last year.

Pearl learned at the class that the Street Collective also had volunteer opportunities. So, she started attending Volunteer Nights as a great way to give back to the community. The group of volunteers at Volunteer Night refurbished more than 50 bikes that were donated to kids at the Safe Summer Kickoff event.

Anyone can be an expert if they’re willing

“Anybody can do this, just be willing to volunteer,” said Pearl. “You don’t need to know anything about biking or bikes. When I walked in, I knew nothing about a bike other than it has two tires and is connected by a chain. The Street Collective walked us through the entire process and reassured us.”

She has done a variety of different tasks while volunteering including replacing pedals on a group of bicycles, adjusting seats and handlebars, and taking apart old, rusty bikes for their spare parts.

About BluesCare Giving

The Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare Giving program provides necessary funding to eligible nonprofit organizations. Employees may earn the opportunity to designate dollars by volunteering or through a dollar-for-dollar matching gift donation.

In just four hours, team members can volunteer and earn $100 to direct to a qualified nonprofit organization of their choice.

To find out if your nonprofit organization is eligible for the BluesCare Giving program, contact BluesCareGiving@wellmark.com Send Email.