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Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteers are the strength of our existence. Our diverse group of volunteers all share the same commitment of getting bikes to people who need them. We thank everyone who has given their time and talent.

Our Volunteer Spotlight shines a light on the people who help Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg in so may ways.

Rickey Morton

Passion is the word Rickey Morton uses when he describes why he volunteers with Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg (RBH). That passion began years earlier after an injury.

Rickey grew up in the Allison Hill neighborhood where RBH is located. He waited for his elementary school bus at the corner, just east of the shop entrance. He played basketball through high school and after graduation he continued to play, until during one game he tore his Achilles tendon. During rehab it was suggested he try bicycling. Once on the bicycle, he never looked back. A passion was ignited.

On Earth Day in April 2012, Rickey was riding his bike when he came upon an event at the Broad Street Market. A bicycle race around the market, called Market Madness was taking place. He asked a police officer about the event and she introduced him to Ross Willard, who was checking and fixing bicycles.

Ross and Rickey talked about bicycles and safety and the next thing he knew he was running home to get his children, then 14 and 9, to bring them back with their bicycles. The kids raced in their age group and did extremely well. After his experience with the race and talking with Ross, he went to volunteer at RBH, then at the Elder Street location. Rickey is now one of our most experienced mechanics and has learned everything through his volunteer hours at RBH. “The best thing about volunteering,” Rickey says, “is seeing the people so happy with their bicycle.”

Since 2012, Rickey has volunteered whenever he has time, between raising his family and working. Most recently, Rickey was approached by Dajuann Greene, unit director of the Boys and Girls Club John N. Hall Clubhouse, on the south side of the city. Director Greene asked him to help kids with their bicycles. Very excited about this new possibility, Rickey agreed to teach kids bicycle mechanic skills while they earn a bike. He will incorporate RBH’s Youth Mechanic Program, which began earlier this year.

Rickey’s commitment to the mission of Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg is long-lasting. And his passion is contagious as he works to ignite this spark in young people.

John Reardon

Like many Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg (RBH) volunteers, John Reardon’s involvement began with a chance encounter with Ross Willard, RBH’s head mechanic. At the time, Recycle Bicycle was still a nomadic organization and Ross was moving bikes out of one temporary location to the next temporary location.

John’s dedication to keeping the wheels turning for riders began when he was volunteering at the Atlas Street location. In those days, bikes, parts, tires and tubes were scattered throughout the maze-like building. Fed up with the chaos, John followed the RBH creed – “If you see a need, address it.” John began by building racks for the bike inner tubes with labels for the various sizes and sorting the inventory to make it easier for mechanics to find what they needed.

That was over ten years ago. Now, RBH has a permanent home and John Reardon is a long-time volunteer in charge of the most important aspect of bike repair. John is our inner tube inspection and repair specialist. Because every bike rider knows that if your tire is flat, you won’t go very far.

At the new RBH shop, John has helped implement a complete process to keep our bike mechanics stocked with inner tubes in every size. John starts by sorting through and testing each one to see if it needs to be repaired. He patches any inner tube that needs to be repaired; determines the tube size and labels each one in easy-to-read white ink with his impeccable writing.

Keeping Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg stocked with inner tubes is an endless task. He even takes the time to wrap up and box up rejected tubes and deliver them to a facility so that they can be recycled. John’s contribution is invaluable in helping bike mechanics to be able to have exactly what they need to make repairs. Thank you John!

Nannette Swanson

Nannette came to Recycle Bicycle to get a bike for her grandson during the early pandemic days. Our volunteer Dan assisted them and suggested Nan volunteer. Since most of her activities were on hold because of COVID, she decided to try Recycle Bicycle and she has become one of our valued volunteers.

What is your role at RBH? – My role at first was doing manual registration, from that to changing bike tires, advancing to fixing brakes, chains, adjusting gear shifts. I was learning as I go and being taught by others the correct way to maintain a bike.

Any part of your volunteer position that is more challenging? – I love a challenge, so no, I know my limitations and I like learning new things. 

How about the most enjoyable part of your volunteering position? – My most enjoyable part is seeing the joy on the kids’ faces getting a bike and being able to serve them in the best way I can. I have always worked in the field of helping children as a teachers aid, youth advocate, always making sure my grandkids had what they needed and taking them everywhere.

Do you have other hobbies? – Yes, I love to sing and have been singing since a child, with different groups and been in plays. I was Ms. Pennsylvania Senior America 2011. At the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, I came in 2nd at Nationals out of 39 States. I enjoy sewing, a side of tap dancing and of course riding my bike.

What is a typical day like for you? – Before the Pandemic, I spent time with my grandkids and Tuesday is my weekly choir rehearsal. Wednesday is prayer meetings. Sunday is always church and helping at the church food bank. I love shopping and meeting up with family and friends. I used to take a Cruise at least twice a year. 

Dennis Spruill

“I first learned about Recycle Bicycle from a fellow church member, Phillip Van der Goes, at Covenant Community Church here in Harrisburg. He told me he volunteers there and urged me to do the same. I was able to trade in my bike and upgrade to a much cooler one that I fixed using bike repair knowledge taught to me by the shop’s very thoughtful volunteers. It’s been about a year since I joined their ranks and I can attest that it has been fun, therapeutic, and extremely rewarding. Helping and teaching adults and children in the community I grew up in really means the world to me. I learn something new every day I volunteer, and urge anyone reading this to come and get involved if you haven’t already.”

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