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Arlington Non-Profit Bike Stores Lets Kids Shift Gears—And Lives

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Ever Franco turned his life around at Phoenix Bikes, learning to fix bikes after a judge ordered him to complete community service and eventually being put on the shop's payroll.
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Ever Franco turned his life around at Phoenix Bikes, learning to fix bikes after a judge ordered him to complete community service and eventually being put on the shop's payroll.

A non-profit bike repair shop in Arlington is helping both riders and teens get on the right track.

Last year Ever Franco—an 8th grader at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington—was in a bad place. "I was in a bit of trouble. I went to juvie and then my parole officer told me to do some community service," he says. That turned out to be the non-profit Phoenix Bike repair shop, a 700-square foot concrete shed tucked behind Barcroft Park in Arlington.

Executive Director Henry Dunbar says Every year about 80 youngsters learn to fix donated bikes. After every 25 hours of service, teens can earn a bike for themselves and others. Participants learn customer service skills too.

Dunbar says Ever has been coming to Phoenix Bikes nearly every day for more than a year. "[He] has gone through every program we've had to offer, including our advanced mechanic, and this January we were able to put him on staff and hire him as a part-time mechanic," he says.

Learning about gears, spokes and brakes may be the least of the lessons, though. "I built this bike for my uncle, one for my sister and one for my friend so he could get to school. I feel pretty proud about it because I m helping people get places faster and not spending money," he says.

The 16-year-old has learned that perseverance can win races too. "My first bike it was a little frustrating because I didn't know how all the parts worked. I feel pretty proud because when I got my first bike it looked like a piece of junk so I built it up and now I ride it everywhere, and I also do races," he says.

Ever also makes jewelry out of used bike parts, says Dunbar. "He made a bracelet for a lady. She loved it and it sold for $45 at our silent auction," he says.

It seems by learning how to shift gears, Ever has shifted his future. "At the end its all worth it. Trust me."

Phoenix Bikes is located at 4200 South Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington.


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