This morning in Madisonville, Kentucky, a group of cross county bicyclists will park the bikes and step away from the peloton to help a local community in need. Riders on the Bicycle Adventure 2023, sponsored by the Fuller Center for Housing, will also be making a pair of stops in this area later this month to do the same.
Tiffany Rogers of the Fuller Center for Housing’s branch in Pilot Mountain, which serves Surry and Stokes counties, described the groups as, “Christ and faith driven and (we) do our best to provide Godly principles in our giving efforts.”
“We have decided to partake in an exciting opportunity called the Bicycle Adventure. Riders and builders from all over the country are riding cross country and one of their stops is Pilot Mountain,.” she said. “The riders are comprised of volunteers and amateur or professional construction workers/handymen. They are doing tasks such as repairing roofing, painting, homes, installing windows, yardwork, and much more.”
The Cali to Carolina ride set out from La Jolla on May 26 on a 10-week, 3,919-mile cross-country journey. Along the way that organizers said riders will “Practice what they preach by hopping off their bikes for nine different build days with Fuller Center covenant partners across the nation.”
“The riders will arrive on July 31, and we have a few small projects lined up for them,” Rogers said. The Fuller website said that several of the stops on the Cali to Carolina tour would be focused on helping communities impacted by tornado damage.
“The primary goal is to raise awareness about our nonprofit and hopefully raise the funds that will help at least 450 people have simple, decent places to live,” Rogers said. “We thrive off of donations and volunteering and are always looking for people willing to help give their time or talents.”
When not aiding the ride, “We work through a Greater Blessings project where we are actively completing and repairing homes and small projects in our community, for those less fortunate.”
The projects are designed to help homeowners, often the elderly and handicapped, do basic health and safety repairs to their homes. In many cases these repairs allow the homeowner to stay in a house that they might otherwise be forced to leave, she said.
Fuller Center for Housing is a registered 501c3 that, along with the local branch, has two others in the northeast corner of the state, one in Hertford County and the Roanoke River branch serving Washington and Martin counties.
While each local branch has its own stated goals, generally the goal is to build or repair homes with partner families who participate in the work and pay the costs forward on a no-profit, no-interest basis they can afford.
If that model sounds like that of another familiar charity group, it would be because Fuller Center founder Millard Fuller was also the founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International.
The Fuller Center seeks, “To eradicate poverty housing by promoting partnerships with individuals and community groups to build and rehabilitate homes for people in need.”
“At a time of increased divisions, our caring Christ-centered community brings people together to make the world a better place,” they wrote.
The Cali to Carolina ride is just one of the rides happening this year, with a Georgia to Maine ride recently completed and what must be a steamy Tour de Florida along with a Gulf Coast Tour.
The stop in Pilot Mountain is part of the final leg of the ride that will set out from Hillsville, Virginia, and make a 40-mile trek down to Pilot Mountain.
That will seem like almost an afterthought compared to some of the other ride days where riders may clock 70 miles or more. They will ride until the weekend, arriving in Wilmington on Saturday, August 5.
The Fuller Center website said that participants of the ride need not be Christian, nor the people who receive their services. Theirs is an ecumenical group made up of people of many sects of Christianity.
While they are self-described as “unashamedly Christian, we welcome all people regardless of faith to support and participate in our work, and we place no religious requirements on our beneficiaries.”
Founder Millard Fuller said, “Everyone – all of us, every last person on God’s earth – deserves decent shelter. It speaks to the most basic of human needs — our home — the soil from which all of us, every last person, either blossoms or withers.”
Since the first ride in 2008, the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure has raised more than $4 million for the fight against poverty housing. More than 1,600 riders have participated, pedaling more than 1.5 million cumulative miles through the years.
“For 15 years we’ve enabled hundreds of new and experienced cyclists alike to tackle incredible adventures by bicycle. The event is not a race, but an invitation to break from the routine of daily life and follow Jesus’s call to love and serve our neighbor, especially ‘the least of these,’ as we help families have homes,” the Fuller Center wrote.
Rogers said they expect 20 to 30 riders who along the way will be staying at local churches and showering at the Civic Center in Pilot Mountain, both of which have volunteered their services. As it is a faith-based group, they take Sunday’s off for rest and worship.
“I’d been looking for local charities to become involved with here at home… After my own research, it just aligned so well with all that I believe in and it fit exactly what I wanted to continue to do with my personal mission work, to serve others,” Rogers said.
For some the ride is a call to action, and she added hers, “People can help by donations that we can use for building supplies.”
“Or they can reach out to me if they’d be interested in volunteering for future projects, we need everything from carpenters to painters to people that enjoy helping others doing small household repair tasks.”