By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange is looking for an executive director and is advertising for a person willing to take on the responsibility of running the nonprofit organization while holding out the hope that grants may be obtained in the near future to fund a stipend or salary for that position.
The exchange was the brainchild of John Rogers. Having worked with troubled youth in the past, Rogers would take bicycles that he found, fix them up and give the bikes away so they could get to school and get out for exercise.
Rogers says that as a result of his experience with the Landmark Education program, he realized that his idea could be expanded into the community, and brought his idea to Better Together's annual celebration in December of 2013.
"It received a positive response. From there, with support from Better Together, the city of Laconia, civic leaders, Piches, MC Cycle, and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation,the Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange was created and opened its doors two years ago in March."
Rogers says that in the two seasons that the exchange has been operating, 245 bicycles have been given out to those in need. There is currently over 125 bicycles in storage with about 25 ready to be refurbished. Funding through grants, donations and the sale of some high-end bicycles provides funds for rent, insurance, replacement parts, tires tubes and bike locks.
He says that the primary purpose of the exchange is to provide a means of inexpensive alternative transportation in the form of refurbished bicycles, made available to people who would benefit with greater mobility as it relates to work, family and personal living. A referral program is used by working with area human service organizations that refers people to the exchange. Personal referrals and demonstrated need also qualifies someone to receive a bicycle. Bikes locks and helmets are also offered.
The exchange is located at 343 Court St. and has space for a workshop and storage area. It is open from April to through mid October three times a week for one to two hours each day. Appointments are available during the off season for special needs for bicycles.
Since the exchange opened, Rogers said, he has put in about 20 hours a week and will be available to help train anyone interested in the executive director's position.
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