Q. What to do first?
A. Well….. I prayed and asked others to pray for God to lead this ministry. And by the way….He has.
Q. After that?
A. Learn all you can about other ministries and community services like Healing Rides. I learned about these Bike Chairs from a program on Nantucket called “The Nantucket Wheelers.” I recommend you look at their website and check out our website for lots of information. www.healingrides.com
Learn all you can about your Bike Chairs. Know your product inside and out. You have to be able to answer questions that people will want to know. Safety is a big concern to most people I talked with. They must feel assured that this is SAFE!
Q. Do you store the Bike Chairs indoors?
A. Yes. Secure this before you get your Bike Chairs. Find a place close to where you plan to ride. I looked for a secure, mouse free storage unit. Our unit was donated. Transporting these Bike Chairs is difficult unless you have a trailer. They are very big and heavy. I try not to take them places, although they are great visual aids when you are getting started.
A. Yes. Secure this before you get your Bike Chairs. To protect yourself I recommend you insure the riders (Guests), volunteers (Pedalers), and Bike Chairs
Q. How did you go about getting insured?
A. We looked into being our own LLC but there is a lot of paper work involved. My church, Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, IL, graciously insures us. They have many other mission projects and Healing Rides is just one more. Do you have a non-profit conection?
A. Yes. We needed various types of support such as:
- Technical (web site creation and maintenance, graphics, etc.)
- Financial (donations for the bikes, storage, maintenance, helmets, etc.)
- Other volunteer opportunities (Pedalers, publicity, etc.)
Talk with as many people as you can about your idea. Gather support financially and for personal encouragement. There will be many who try to discourage you. My friend (web designer) and husband were my greatest encouragers.
Q. Do I need a website?
A. I highly recommend one. My friend designed ours for free and it has helped get the word out and is also a place to download paper work, get donations, and place pictures of your Guests. Our web site is www.healingrides.com. It is also needed if you are writing grants to raise money.
Q. Do I need a Logo?
A. I highly recommend this too. Another friend designed our Logo for free. They are required for many grants.
Q. What should I have in place before we get the Bike Chairs?
A. Storage, Insurance, Helmets, Volunteers, People who will ride, bike repair person and of course the money.
Q. Where do I get the Bike Chair?
A. We ordered ours from “Frank Mobility.” They have several models to choose from. The Bike Chairs we own cost $10,000 each, however we have the deluxe model with battery assist because we have several bridges we go over on our rides. We also have added many extra safety features. Your salesperson can help you decide what is best for you. See our website to see what we have decided on. www.healingrides.com
Q. What extra’s do we need?
A. This is totally up to you. I am a stickler for safety of our Guests and Pedalers.
See our website to see our safety features (about healing rides). www.healingrides.com
Q. Transporting the Bike Chairs?
A. We have a place where our Guests can come to us very near the trail we use. Many nursing homes have buses to transport their people. The Bike Chairs are large and heavy and difficult to transport unless you have a sturdy, covered, trailer that does not bounce around.
Q. How did you raise the money?
A. We did a lot of legwork and talking before the fund raising. We decided on a short campaign of only one month. We included the community, bike clubs, and our church and raised enough for two Bike Chairs. I also tried grant writing, but that is not my gift.
A. Yes. Get as much free publicity as you can. We recommend TV, radio, local paper and magazines. We contacted all the local nursing homes in the area and invited their activity directors to come and ride and see for themselves how great, and safe the Bike Chairs are. Once you ride, you are hooked. We have never had anyone ask to turn around and go home!
Q. How to communicate with your volunteers?
A. We communicate with our volunteers via email and through our dispatcher (my daughter) at the church. It just depends upon how many volunteers you have and what works best for them. We tried a FB group, but I was not good at keeping that going. Just keep everyone on the same page. This is very important. We also used a free scheduling website (Signup Genius) for the first two years to schedule the rides. The free version lacked some features we want, so upgraded to the next level and pay a little per year.
Q. How many volunteers do I need?
A. This depends upon how many Bike Chairs you have and how often you want to go out. We have 20 volunteers for two Bike Chairs and we provide rides Wednesday through Sunday.
Q. How do you choose your volunteers?
A. This is a personal choice. This step has been the easiest for me, as so many people want to volunteer for this ministry. It is so much fun. I look for people who have a heart for the elderly and disabled. Also it is important that they are available during the times you have rides. I talk with them on the phone first and then follow up with personal interviews and try to get a feel for why they want to be a volunteer.
Q. How do people sign up to take a ride?
A. We use “sign up genius” and our church secretary (also may daughter) takes the calls and the volunteers fill in the schedule.
Good luck and may God Bless