Site last updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Log In

Reset Password
MENU
Butler County's great daily newspaper

United Way kicks off 9th Build-A-Bike in county

Grayson Murray, 4, helps the UPS team construct one of 100 bicycles for children in Butler and Armstrong counties. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania kicked off its ninth Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14, at the township’s community park.

“We have six companies here building bikes for agencies in Butler and Armstrong counties, and there’ll be 100 bikes built and distributed today,” said Amy Franz, United Way’s regional vice president.

Huddled outside the park’s Raider Pride Center, wrenches in hand, were volunteers from MSA, Westinghouse, UPS, NexTier and Mars Bank.

“The process is, we work with our agencies that are in Building for Success in School and Life investment priority area, and they identify families that they serve who would benefit from a bicycle — and they’ll help distribute those,” Franz said.

CRANBERRY TWP — United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania kicked off its ninth Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14, at the township’s community park.

“We have six companies here building bikes for agencies in Butler and Armstrong counties, and there’ll be 100 bikes built and distributed today,” said Amy Franz, United Way’s regional vice president.

Huddled outside the park’s Raider Pride Center, wrenches in hand, were volunteers from MSA, Westinghouse, UPS, NexTier and Mars Bank.

“The process is, we work with our agencies that are in Building for Success in School and Life investment priority area, and they identify families that they serve who would benefit from a bicycle — and they’ll help distribute those,” Franz said.

In Butler County, Franz said the organization was working with the Butler YMCA and the Butler Area School District. For Armstrong County, the organization partnered with Richard G. Snyder YMCA.

She said the program began as a way of ensuring all children had something to do over the summer.

“You know, bicycles, that’s sort of a rite of passage,” Franz said. “It’s a way to exercise your freedom, learn about other parts of your neighborhood, learn what you can do on a bike — it keeps children active.”

The program focuses on elementary-age children, providing them with an age-appropriate bike, helmet and lock.

“We purchase these in bulk and they’re partially assembled, and then the teams here — so there are 10 teams of five each — they’re getting the bike out, they’re putting the handlebars on, the seats,” Franz said. “And then we have people that are bike experts that come and inspect that first bike to make sure that they’re doing the assembly right.”

Franz said financial support for the program comes from FirstEnergy Foundation, Bayer and Williams Company, with all three also providing volunteers.

“Many of our larger employers do workplace campaigns, and we work through that list to offer these opportunities to their companies first,” Franz said. “So the ones you see here today have been really good supporters of the United Way — not just bringing people out to volunteer, but in financial support and sharing United Way’s message with their employees.”

John Perock, nuclear fuel engineer at Westinghouse, unpacks a bicycle to assemble at United Way’s Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle
Building bikes, communities

John Perock, nuclear fuel engineer at Westinghouse, said the company has had a strong relationship with United Way during his tenure.

“Recently, I think maybe in 2020, I was asked to participate as a local operating board member,” Perock said. “And I’m also now what you would call an ‘employee engagement champion’ at Westinghouse for the employee giving campaign.”

Perock said the company works hard to participate in United Way projects, bringing two teams Wednesday with members from South Carolina and New Hampshire.

“I think (I’m most excited) that our Westinghouse employees are willing to give their time to support the community,” Perock said. “And knowing that, like I said, they’re coming in from different locations yet they recognize that, whether it’s community-building here, it translates to them doing community-building in their local regions too.”

Kenzie Hindman, assistant manager at Mars Bank, said that, while the bank has been participating in Build-A-Bike for the last few years, this was her first year at the event.

She said that assembling the group’s first bike was a little intimidating.

“It was at first, but we got our first bike down and it seems to be smooth sailing from there,” Hindman said.

Hindman said she was familiar with the Butler YMCA and the Butler Senior High School, and hoped that the children within local community benefited from the donations.

“I know that’s a very walkable community,” she said. “So, for children that wouldn’t otherwise have bikes to be able to have those for the summer to get around the community and socialize and be with their friends, I think it’s going to make a real big impact.”

According to Franz, that is exactly the sort of impact United Way hopes to have in communities.

“United Way is in the community to make sure people have the resources they need to be successful,” Franz said.

By noon Wednesday, 100 bikes would be assembled by the team of volunteers for the Butler County and Armstrong County communities.

“The agencies will pick them up right afterward,” Franz said. “They’ll start showing up probably between 12 and 12:30 p.m., and then they’ll go back to the organizations and distribute them.”

But Wednesday is only the beginning of the Build-A-Bike event, she said.

An additional 100 bikes will be built Thursday to benefit Westmoreland and Fayette counties. On Friday, 100 more will be distributed through agencies in Allegheny County.

“We’ve worked really closely with these agencies to identify kiddos that need the bike and to get them in the right hands,” Franz said.

This story was updated June 15, 2022 to reflect that the Armstrong County event is held in collaboration with the Richard G. Snyder YMCA. A previous version of this story said Cranberry Township’s Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA.

United Way’s Jesse Sprajcar, director of regional impact initiatives, carries a completed bicycle to the pickup area at the Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle
Megan Davis and Nick Hersman, marketing directors at Bayer, finish assembling a bicycle at United Way’s Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle
Laura Thomas and Lori Lubic, project managers at Westinghouse, finish assembling a bicycle at United Way’s Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle
Kenzie Hindman, assistant director at Mars Bank, helps her team assemble a bicycle at United Way’s Build-A-Bike event Wednesday, June 14. Austin Uram/Butler Eagle

More in Local News

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

* indicates required
TODAY'S PHOTOS