Good Karma Bikes on the Move to Expanded Services

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Good Karma Bikes, the small San Jose nonprofit changing lives through bike repair, is expanding its reach in helping homeless and low income clients after recently moving into a cavernous corrugated steel-sided warehouse not far from downtown.

The popular weekly Saturday morning free bike repair clinics that previously were held near Diridon Station are now being offered at the new location at 345 Sunol St. Now instead of waiting in the sometimes harsh elements either standing or sitting on parking lot curbs while their bikes are repaired at no charge, clients wait sitting inside or under shade structures.

Good Karma founder Jim Gardner said he is pleased with the new setup, since the warehouse gives volunteers easy access to dozens of bins holding donated bike parts and tools; at the mobile clinic access was limited to what fit into an old white service van. The large space is also allowing the nonprofit to store donated bikes and equipment, and expand its services to homeless and low-income clients with job skills training and transitional employment opportunities.

Good Karma Bike’s new location at 345 Sunol St., San Jose.

The only downside, he said, is the group lost its visibility near the busy transit center, making it easy for the many homeless and low-income clients to find it, as well as attracting new volunteers and supporters.

Despite the move, a recent clinic was doing brisk business from clients who were directed by volunteers from the old location, or who heard about the new location by word of mouth.

Job Training and Employment

Gardner is especially excited by the group’s ability to now offer bike repair courses to people in job transitions. A collaboration of volunteers from Good Karma and the Downtown Streets Team, a San Jose homeless services agency, are offering both beginning and advanced eight-week classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to 10 students per class.

Each level costs $80, and by the end of the full 16 weeks, students will know how to completely rebuild a bicycle. The Downtown Streets Team offers scholarships to those that can’t afford to pay.

“We’re sold out for the rest of the year,” Gardner said of the courses. “The response is tremendous.”

Also in the works is turning the warehouse into a second-hand bike shop staffed by clients needing transitional employment, Gardner said.

Good Karma Bike’s demonstration workstation for its bicycle repair classes.

The shop will sell low cost, reconditioned bicycles to the surrounding community, as well as offer bike repair services.

Good Karma recently secured a contract with Velo Mini, sellers of folding electric assist bicycles, to provide quality control inspections on units shipped from China. The contract means employment for clients trained by skilled Good Karma volunteers.

Good Karma Wish List

With all this sudden growth and expansion, Gardner and the tight-knit band of Good Karma volunteers are juggling a lot of tasks and are discovering a whole new level of needs. Besides monetary donations, the group also needs more volunteers, and in-kind donations like bicycles, tools, bike parts, large plastic storage bins, metal shelving, bike racks, display cases, and cushioned mats for work stations.

“It would be wonderful to have some people sponsor us with some parts for our classes,” Gardner said.

Good Karma Bikes needs donations of storage bins like this one to hold parts and supplies.

He said they also need workers to help install some donated work lighting, and paint the concrete floor. In addition, Gardner could use someone to help him keep the website updated, and do other administrative tasks. Other volunteer opportunities include helping fix bikes at the free Saturday morning clinics, or helping with other clinic tasks like signing in clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donated bicycles and other equipment, like office chairs, sit in the Good Karma Bikes warehouse.

Comments

  1. Irene says:

    Hello Pam,

    Very accurate and well written article. So nice to meet you on Saturday.

    Irene Johnson

  2. Marty Reinders says:

    My son and I have been pitching in the last couple of weekends reconditioning bikes and fixing where we can. It’s been an outstanding experience! Jim and company are a GREAT bunch of people!

  3. Pam Marino says:

    Nice to meet you, too, Irene! Thank you for the kind words.

  4. Pam Marino says:

    Thank you, Marty, for your comments. I completely agree with you about Jim and the Good Karma team!

  5. Marty Reinders says:

    That’s me in the to picture!

  6. Marty Reinders says:

    Oops, not…