Folsom State Prison (FSP) joined the Cameron Park Rotary Club at the Folsom Moose Lodge to distribute 45 refurbished bikes. They also distributed helmets, water bottles and treats to local children during the Dec. 19 event.
Folsom State Prison, Cameron Park Rotary deliver cheer
The bicycles distributed at the lodge were a fraction of 200 refurbished by a single incarcerated person at FSP.
“The bicycle rehab program at FSP is incredibly beneficial to participants by giving them an opportunity to give back,” said Warden Tracy Johnson. “We treasure this partnership with our community and truly enjoy seeing the hard work of so many people make a difference.”
During the Moose Lodge event, children chose a bicycle and helmet, while also enjoying hot cocoa and baked goods. One parent, Sabrina Abell, surprised her daughter with a stop at the event.
“This day is awesome and just makes the kids feel so special,” she said. It ended up being a big day for her daughter, as she ditched the training wheels and upgraded to a two-wheeler.
The FSP bicycle donation is a Christmas tradition that began in 1986. Throughout the year, the Cameron Park Rotary Club collaborates with the El Dorado Disposal Recycling Program and City of Folsom to save discarded bikes bound for the landfill. The bikes are delivered to the prison bike workshop. Once there, they are rehabbed to be ride-ready and ultimately distributed to the community during the holiday season.
For 20 years, Joe Ryan of the Rotary Club and the lodge has been instrumental in coordinating the program.
“I look forward to this event every year and it really gets better and better,” he said. “From the bicycles seeing a new life to the many people it touches during collection, coordination and distribution, this program is a win-win.”
200 bikes refurbished by one incarcerated person
This year, incarcerated person Frank Jachwak refurbished all 200 bicycles. While repairing the bicycles is hard work, he said it is worth it.
“It’s really touching to know that these bicycles will go on to make people happy. I’m really in awe to see all 200 bikes in one place and to see this day finally here.”
He said the program has inspired him to set the goal of opening up his own bicycle repair shop upon release. Jachwak also plans to teach his grandchildren the skills of the trade.
In addition to the Folsom event, bicycles were distributed by the Alameda County Probation Department, the Union Gospel Mission and a refuge program at a local charter school during their own events throughout the day.
The Cameron Park Rotary always accepts donations of bicycles, tools and parts for their efforts with Folsom State Prison.
Story and photos by Alia Cruz, CDCR Information Officer