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Goodwill, bike coalition partner to provide skills for female inmates

Female inmates transitioning back into society now have an opportunity to learn job skills by fixing up recycled bikes, as part of a new partnership between Goodwill Industries and the Central New Hampshire Bicycling Coalition.

A pilot project began this week, giving two women living at the Shea Farm Transitional Housing Unit a chance to help fix up to 50 recycled bikes. Alongside fixing the bikes they’ll also learn job skills that will help them find future employment. The bikes will be fixed over the next eight weeks and sold at the coalition’s bike swap May 18 and 19 at S&W Sports on South Main Street.

If this pilot program goes well, the two organizations will look to continue the partnership, said Kelly Paquette, Goodwill’s Workforce Solutions program manager. Here’s what Paquette had to say about the partnership:

What’s the goal of the project? One is to provide women transitioning out of prison with some employment skills, and the other is to meet a community need by recycling bikes and offering them at a low cost for people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

What skills will the women gain? They’re learning nuts and bolts bike maintenance, (and) in addition to that we will offer work readiness skills, interview skills, conflict resolution, financial literacy. The goal is when they leave prison (that) they have some skills to go to an employer.

How did this partnership form? It originally started because Shea Farm gets lots of bikes donated for the women to use, and a lot of the women weren’t using the bikes because they were in such bad disrepair. . . . So we started a while back doing a project with Tim (Farmer, the bike coalition’s treasurer) just to fix up the bikes at Shea Farm, and then this further idea came along as a result of that.

How’s it going so far? It’s going great, they’re quickly learning and adapting and have made progress already. We have more volunteers coming on board next week, so we expect that things will continue to move along smoothly.

Anything else you would like to add? We’re looking for donations and people to come to the swap in May to support the project and also see what the coalition has to offer for great bikes and community access to transportation.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter@kronayne.)

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