By Megan Rolland, The Gainesville Sun
Word is beginning to get around town about The Kickstand, a nonprofit bicycle repair shop and sometimes music venue on South Main Street that is keeping Gainesville’s needy equipped with free and healthy transportation.
Sunday the shop was ratcheted up a notch as a handful of volunteers converged to repair a pile of unwanted bicycles for the poor and homeless.
“It was awesome. They had all the tools that we needed. They have spare parts. They have bikes that are just junk bikes that we could get parts off, and the main thing was the knowledge of how to get things done,” said Kelly Jones, a former University of Florida student who helped get six bikes back in working order on Sunday.
“Before I started I didn’t know anything, well, maybe how to pump up a tire,” Jones said. “They didn’t just do the work for you. They showed you how to do it and then let you practice.”
Many of you may have seen the story in this morning’s Gainesville Sun about Ollen James Rogers, identified as the homeless man found dead in Newnan’s Lake on Wednesday. Ollen was a former guest of the house, and my interactions with Ollen were always kind and friendly. Ollen stayed with us during either our first or second year in the Blue House. Ollen had a pretty nice set-up out in the woods where he lived comfortably with several others, including family members. He was a bit of a throwback, a real man’s man–strong, independent and no-nonsense. The only reason he stayed with us for a few weeks was because he had been in a bad accident (on his bike I think) and when the hospital released him, they had told him he needed to rest, recuperate and be close enough for any return visits if needed. He came to the house pretty beat up, bruised and hobbling, lots of bandages.
Ollen wasn’t a regular at the house. He came by every once in awhile, usually on Sundays for the cafe during those first couple of years in the Blue House. I had been out to Ollen’s campsite on occasion, including one trip back in September 2004 when the hurricanes were coming our way. Several folks had gone out to some of the sites to see if anyone wanted to come to safer ground during the storm. I remember Ollen thanking us for the concern but noting that he would be just fine where he was, thank you very much.
Ollen James Rogers, age 53, we give thanks for having known you. May you rest in peace.
For this week’s schedule please click here.
Johnny and Patrick were at a Pax Christi meeting in Pennsylvania most of the week, but the rest of us kept the home-fire burning, the garden watered and weeded, and the meals coming. A big thank you to the Servants of Christ for their delicious Pasta Fagioli and to the DEI fraternity for their help in the kitchen during Sunday’s cafe.
Many of you have read about the recent changes at St. Francis House, our city’s homeless shelter, in response to complaints about the growing number being served lunch. Some of our thoughts and experience are related in Kelli’s letter to the Sun which appeared last Sunday.
This week is, and there will be a few changes to our regular schedule.
Blue House Pants: ; New pants out of old things – “locally sewn;” If you’ve got some sewing experience, come help us churn out a few more pairs in anticipation of selling them at an upcoming diocesan conference.
NO THURSDAY ROUNDTABLE – It’s
Way of the Cross: Friday, 12 noon – 2pm: This is an ancient tradition of the church. Meet at the House, and then join us as we make our way through downtown Gainesville and reflect on how Christ continues to be crucified among us in the poor and marginalized in our community.
Gainesville Catholic Worker