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Green City Gal: Debora Kuiper

Published on September 05, 2014

Debora Kuiper out front of Bike Works. Photo: Brianna Aspinall.Bike Works volunteer Debora Kuiper in front of the garage door mural at Evergreen Brick Works (Photo: Brianna Aspinall)

Since spring 2014, Debora Kuiper has been an active member of the Bike Works Community Builder volunteer group, and spends many of her days helping at the Community Bicycle Hub program and at various bike workshops in Bike Works at Evergreen Brick Works. She learned a lot over the course of the 8-week volunteer training program and can now help others during the Bike Works DIY (do-it-yourself) drop-in hours on weekends.

Deborah recently took some time out of greasing chains and tightening brakes to tell us a bit more about her volunteer experience at Evergreen:

Why I decided to volunteer at Evergreen: I knew about Evergreen because of the Farmers’ Market but didn’t know about all the programs that they offered. Through a newsletter from Volunteer Toronto I heard about the Bike Works Community Builder position. It seemed like a great fit for me as it gave me a good balance between hands-on work but without too much physical activity. My volunteer work also connects back to my childhood where my Dad would build bikes from different bike parts that he would pick from the Police Station. He is definitely a key motivator.

My favourite spot: I enjoy the Farmers’ Market. Most Saturdays before starting my volunteering at the Bike Works I get my weekly groceries from the Market.

What is rewarding about volunteering? The most fun program I helped with was the Learn to Ride program, where we taught a women’s community group how to ride bicycles at their own pace and in a safe and encouraging environment. It is an amazing feeling to see the big grin on their faces. One woman was a grandmother and wanted to learn how to bicycle so she could go on rides with her grandchildren.

One of my best memories: Every Tuesday I volunteer with the Community Bicycle Hub Program and there are three young women who are always very excited to be part of the program. Before they had no opportunity to work with their hands and had no idea of the names of working tools. Now they are able to take apart and rebuild bicycles on their own.

What do I see as the impact of my volunteering? With the Bike Hubs Program I am helping youth strengthen their co-operative and leadership skills. I encourage youth to speak up, help one another and overcome challenges. During the weekends, while helping the public fix their bicycles, I have the opportunity to be an ambassador for Evergreen.

When I am not volunteering: I live in an amazing neighbourhood where we all help each other. Right now I am babysitting a dog and taking care of gardens for three neighbours. During the blackout (in December 2013) we all took out our BBQs and shared our food to avoid it going bad. I also volunteer at East General Hospital, where I am a committee member for the patient experience panel. Finally, I have fun and make sure I go on one adventure per year.

Thanks to Debora for sharing her story. If you’re interested in joining Debora and the Bike Works Community Builders team, apply to become a volunteer today. For other exciting opportunities keep an eye on our current volunteer opportunities.