Program gives bikes, lessons to local refugees

Published: Jun. 6, 2016 at 11:54 AM EDT
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The Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement Office has partnered with the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition for the "Bikes For Refugees" program, providing bikes for refugees in Harrisonburg.

The resettlement office has resettled about 1000 refugees over the last five years. Bikes For Refugees works to provide some of these people with the skills to ride bicycles and get around the area.

Program coordinator Richie Vaughan hopes the community respects these refugees on the road and believes it is one way to give back and welcome new neighbors.

"It fees like I'm helping people who really deserve our help, new community members and I'm helping them get independence and the ability to have jobs and take their kids to school and do all the things that

we take for granted when we grow up here."

Over the first weekend of June, the program finished with its third group of about 15 people. The program also gives bikes to the refugees with the help of local bike shops. Yet, Vaughan says the demand is so big at this point that they have a waiting list.