Bike Rehab Ministry

Bread Shed gives away food, clothing, diapers and now bikes
Posted on 12/21/2021
Isaiah Treaster, Barry Cundy and Diane Jones.

The Bread Shed gave away 24 bikes to students during its ABC program on Wednesday, Dec. 15, through a newly forged partnership with the Manchester United Methodist Church’s Bike Rehab Ministry.

A total of 59 reconditioned bikes with helmets included have been raffled off for free to Poplar Bluff students over the past few months during the monthly food giveaway. “We are so fortunate they have chosen us,” stated Jim Ward, Bread Shed executive director.

Ward became aware of the bike operation through his lifelong friend, John Barhydt. A retired AT&T executive, Barhydt is a regular supporter of the Bread Shed based on his correspondence with Ward over the years, which dates back to age 3. “I like helping out organizations my friends are involved in,” he said.

Barhydt’s neighbor in the greater St. Louis area, Barry Cundy, has volunteered as a mechanic for the Bike Rehab Ministry since 2019. When Ward made a proposal to purchase bikes from the ministry in order to help encourage local families to take advantage of the food program, Cundy instead arranged for the Bread Shed to be added to the organization’s donor list.

The neighbors have since driven a truckload from Manchester to the North D Street location on three separate occasions beginning on Sept. 23. Besides the drawings, bikes have specifically gone to students of the Early Childhood Center and Kindergarten, as well as to those of Mark Twain School in need of transportation for work, based on the size of the bicycles on hand.

The ministry accepts donated bikes, and puts them through a multi-point refurbish and cleaning process. For donations that do not pass the inspection, the bikes are either parted out or recycled. The ministry also sells higher-quality road or mountain bikes for a minimal donation and accepts monetary contributions directly. All workers are 100 percent unpaid volunteers, according to the website.

Since 2000, the Bike Rehab Ministry has provided over 9,200 bikes through partnerships, ranging from refugees and military bases to The Muny Theatre, according to Cundy, who is a retired law enforcement officer and helps run the sales department. Typically the organization gives away 700 bikes per year, though that number has slowed down to about 500, post-pandemic, he noted.

As to what the long-term vision is for Poplar Bluff, Cundy simply replied: “The Bread Shed is gonna get a lot more bikes in the future! You’re on our donor list.”

The ABC program—A Better Childhood—supplies free food assortments to over 200 R-I families in need on the third Wednesday of each month, based on a ticket system coordinated by school counselors. The Bread Shed has expanded over the years to include hot meals, a mobile food pantry, senior food packages, a diaper drive, clothing and shower units.

“We started out doing breakfast, and it just grows and grows,” said Ward, who has been involved with the nonprofit for all 12 of its years. “You couldn’t set out to make this happen. You can say it all was by accident.”

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Cutline: Isaiah Treaster of Mark Twain School wins a bike, which he said he plans to gift to his brother Jerimiah Richie of the Middle School, last week at the Bread Shed.

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