By Alyssa Heitfeld, Workplaces Intern
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Looking for some biking inspiration this season? Meet Alex Lee and Nicki Lindgren. For the past two years they have been delivering delicious, handmade meals around the Twin Cities by bicycle.
Alex and Nicki volunteer at Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities. Open Arms relies on volunteers to work in the kitchen, plant in the garden, and deliver meals to clients.
Their routes take them all over Minneapolis. On any given day, Alex and Nicki deliver meals to around 5-6 houses. If they don’t dawdle, the route usually takes them about one to two hours. However, they like to stop and talk to people and explore new places in the Twin Cities. It gives them a chance to interact with people in the community.
Both Alex and Nicki began cycling because their vision is impaired. While they often walk, bus, or take cabs, biking is their most frequent form of transportation.
When people see them arriving by bicycle with the food, it makes them happy. Clients look forward to having their meals delivered on a bike.
“I like the fact that people look at us with awe. A lot of the clients get really excited!” Nicki said.
Nicki and Alex bike almost every day, regardless of rain or snow. “There have been some times when we’ve been out there that it has been wild, wild weather,” Alex laughs. “Really, at the last minute do we say we aren’t going to show up just because its going to rain?”
Biking sometimes makes deliveries easier. Sometimes volunteers have difficulties delivering meals because they can’t find parking. With a bike, you don’t have that problem. “You just park right in front, and you don’t have to carry anything anywhere,” Alex said.
They often take routes that can be difficult for drivers. They want to make sure the clients will get their food.
Alex and Nicki would like to see more people try volunteer on bicycle. ” It’s not very hard,” they said, “especially if you already have a child carrier or something you can pull behind you. You can easily fit two of those big bags in there!”
Making deliveries by bicycle may not be the norm at Open Arms, but Nicki and Alex look forward to it each week.
“We’ve ridden in very interesting weather,” Nicki said. “We’ve met very interesting people. For the most part, all of our clients have said, ‘Wow, you’re so amazing doing this on the bike.’ They’ve all been very gracious.”
Interested in volunteering with Open Arms? Visit www.openarmsmn.org/volunteer/ or contact Lila Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.