On a bicycle built for you
Student honored for Spokes for Folks program
by Jocelyn Malka
A modest bicycle repair project has turned a Greenhill School senior into a "big wheel" who was honored by the Volunteer Center of Dallas recently. Armond Schwartz was named Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the organization for his effort to put bicycles into the lives of needy children.
The award, which recognizes the efforts of individuals, companies and groups in the field of volunteerism, was given to Schwartz for his Spokes for Folks project.
Started last December by Armond in his garage, Spokes for Folks repairs donated bicycles for use by needy individuals. Today, it has grown into an official non-profit organization with as many as 50 volunteers having contributed their time to the program.
Armond said, "I think that a fundamental part of the Jewish religions is the concept of mitzvah. We should help those less fortunate that us. This is my way of doing that."
Armond said the idea for Spokes for Folks came from humble beginnings. "I came up with it at home. We had a lot of bikes in the garage, and I fixed a couple of them. It wasn't very difficult."
Armond, who was given an honorable mention last year for his efforts, has seen Spokes for Folks evolve into something bigger than even he could have imagined. "I'm really happy that its been so successful and that it's made an impact on kids' lives," Armond said.
Today, Boys and Girls Clubs of Dallas receive Armond's refurbished bikes, but he is looking for other organizations in need of bicycles. Sally Rosenberg, director of community service at Greenhill, said, "He's happy to give them to any agency that approaches him."
So far, Spokes for Folks has repaired 150 bicycles. "We also need to get a bigger storage space," Armond said. "That's our next project."
Response to Spokes for Folks has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Phyllis Carr, Volunteer Center representative. Following media attention last December, Armond began to receive donations.
"People started writing checks made out to Spokes for Folks, which even didn't exist at the time," Carr said. After that, Spokes for Folks gathered steam, growing into the successful operation it is today.
During this year's award process, Carr said the hands-down winner was Armond. "The judges were so impressed with Armond that they didn't even select an honorable mention," Carr said. "If anyone ever gets frustrated about this country, they need only look to youth volunteers like Armond and their faith will be renewed," said Carr.
Armond is pleased with the award bestowed upon him by the Volunteer Center, but realizes that the project is its own reward. "I thought it was a really great honor," he said. "But I'd do it all the same, even if I didn't get the recognition."
Armond plans to attend Duke University next year and possibly major in mathematics. Spokes For Folks will continue in Dallas, and Armond also hopes to establish another program at Duke. "I'm happy that it will keep going," Armond said.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, May 10, 2001
and was last modified on: Thu, Jun 7, 2001