Good Karma Bikes Spins Forward With Grand Opening

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Good-Karma-Bikes-grand-opening-san-jose-councilman-sam-liccardo-jim-gardner-ribbon-cutting-photo-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesGood Karma Bikes and its founder and CEO Jim Gardner got a little of that good karma back for all his efforts to help the community, during the grand opening party at the group’s headquarters in downtown San Jose on Thursday, March 28.

With about 100 supporters looking on, San Jose District 3 City Councilmember Sam Liccardo hailed Gardner for being an innovator in his quest to lift people up from homelessness and joblessness through offering bike repairs and job training.

“In this valley we honor  innovation, and we honor innovation in the world of things, things that help us tweet and post and connect in various ways until we’re completely distracted out of our minds, and those innovators certainly deserve their rightful due and undoubtedly they’re well compensated for their innovations,” Liccardo said. “But so much more rare are those innovators who remind us that when we’re done tweeting and posting and connecting, ultimately we’re human beings…I want to thank you for creating something that inspires, lifts up and that empowers, and I think we are all indebted to you and your innovation.” [Read more…]

Profiles in Kindness

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For Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, I’m sharing a few examples of people who are all about showing kindness to others.  They are Jacob-Goeders-Leukemia-Slayer-Santa-Slayer-Project-kindness-good-neighbor-storiespeople that see a need and try to fill it, and naturally feel compassion toward people facing difficult circumstances.

Take a moment to read about these kind folks, and consider where you might see a need that could be filled. In the meantime, you can try today’s Random Acts of Kindness Foundation assignment by reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Circle back and let me know how it goes, or share any other act of kindness you perform or encounter.

There’s a link to the full story at the end of each profile. Also, take a look at my posts for Day 1 and Day 2 of Random Acts of Kindness Week 2013 for more inspiration.

Jacob Goeders

The first profile in kindness is a young man who is extremely pure in heart, and filled with courage despite the challenges he faces. He is Jacob Goeders, better known as The Leukemia Slayer.

Jacob is an 11-year-old boy in a multi-year battle with leukemia. I met Jacob back in December 2011 at a Christmas event for children with serious illnesses. He shared with me about how he asked his 2,000 friends on his Leukemia Slayer Facebook page to send in a $1 each, so he could buy presents for the other kids on the oncology ward. It seems he had been diagnosed the year before around Christmastime, and he knew how difficult it was to be stuck in the hospital undergoing painful treatments. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Repairing Bikes and Lives

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Jim Gardner

“What goes around, comes around,” is one western interpretation of Karma, and there’s probably no better illustration of the concept than Good Karma Bikes of San Jose, where those who once sought free help for their broken down bicycles are now helping others—while repairing their own lives in the process.

Under the motto, “Transportation for transformation,” the two-year-old nonprofit has grown from one laid off engineer fixing bikes for homeless people in St. James Park, to a team of volunteers that not only fix thousands of bikes each year for homeless and low-income clients, but also provide job training, as well as a friendly place to belong.

Every Saturday in a makeshift bicycle repair shop covered by bright red canopies near the Diridon Station (the clinic has since moved to a warehouse at 345 Sunol St., San Jose), loud cheers of welcome greet returning volunteers who come from all over the South Bay Area and Peninsula. As people line up with their bikes to be fixed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—between 30 and 40 every week—each person is greeted with friendly smiles and treated with great care and respect.

There is no charge for the repairs. The clients are considered the same as paying customers, and the volunteer mechanics strive to perform the same quality work as a professional bike shop.

While it may look like Good Karma Bikes is one more nonprofit providing free services to the community, founder and Executive Director Jim Gardner insists it’s something more. [Read more…]