We recently caught up with Heather Parris, VVCC Members, Chain Reaction Founder and Executive Director, at Jerona’s Café in Cottonwood.
Hi Heather. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me.
What’s new with Chain Reaction?
I’m in the process of filing for Chain Reaction’s IRS 501(c)3 designation which I’m very excited about. Several generous donors contributed enough funds for me to do this which is going to open up huge doors for Chain Reaction’s continued fundraising.
We partnered with the VVCC which has been a huge, huge blessing. I have received a lot of help with the Chain Reaction’s governance documents and financial help allowing us to get the bikes we get donated to us fixed before finding a new home for the bike.
Just today, we donated a bicycle to a gentleman through the Verde Valley Sanctuary that was a real blessing to him and me. Every time we donate a bike to someone in need, I feel like it’s more of a blessing to me than the recipient, especially this time of year with the holidays and all. I’m going to be picking up a bike this afternoon from a contributor to go with the one I got last Saturday. People are calling and finding out about Chain Reaction. They’re getting our number from the bike shops or word of mouth. It’s just been wonderful.
How’s fundraising been going?
Slowly, but I am encouraged every time we get a donation. On my birthday in November, I put out a Facebook blast asking for donations and received several, including a $100 donation in the first 10 minutes.
How many bikes have you given to needy homes to date?
I have been asked that several times recently and need to go through my records and count them up. Off the top of my head, I believe it’s been about 30 bikes so far this year. I’m hoping to more than double that in 2018. I’ve also been able to donate four bikes to the Cottonwood Youth Center and I am hoping to do a bike class with them next summer teaching them how to ride and going over safety considerations.
Wow, that’s wonderful. I hear you’ve been working with a local school. What’s that about?
A VVCC member put me in touch with Frank Marston, one of the teachers at Cottonwood Middle School who has started a bike repair class. I was able to donate some of my bikes needing repair to Frank, who has his students repair them and then donate them back to Chain Reaction for distribution to people in need. There’s over 2,000 people in the Verde Valley without transportation.
Have any local bike shops been helping you?
I’ve had tremendous help from the Verde Valley Bicycle Company “VVBC” here in Old Town Cottonwood as well as Absolute Bikes in the Village of Oak Creek. Both shops have donated bikes, parts, helmets, and their time. The VVBC and Absolute are just wonderful to work with.
Chain Reaction’s primary focus is adults, correct?
That’s correct. Most of the bikes Chain Reaction distributes are to adults. I’ve been in touch with the Yavapai County Adult and Juvenile Probation programs and last week I donated a mountain bike to a fourteen year old in the Juvenile Probation program. His family is living in a RV and this is going to be really instrumental in helping his mom as he’ll be able to ride the bike back and forth to school and get himself to his probation appointments without her having to drive him.
What can the community do to help Chain Reaction?
The community can help me by donating cash to Chain Reaction first and foremost. Also, donating bikes, spreading the word, helping us connect with people who need bikes. I’ve recently attended my second Verde Valley Homeless Alliance meeting and was given 5 minutes to speak about Chain Reaction – what we’re doing, who we’re working with, and who we’re giving bikes to. I was thrilled when they applauded me after my talk. What we’re doing is coming from my heart.
Any final thoughts?
I’m looking forward to 2018, spreading our wings and getting some fundraisers under our belts. I would love to partner on a fundraiser with Angie Lozano of Angie’s House who was Chain Reaction’s first bike recipient. I would also like to expand throughout the Verde Valley, perhaps into Camp Verde. Just want to keep growing and be a bigger help to people in need.
5 Minutes With is a running series of articles celebrating VVCC members who are making a difference for bicycling in the Verde Valley. If you know of a VVCC member that fits this description, please send their name to VVCC's Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org.