A group of cross-country bicyclists gave a boost to AmeriCorps' Community Recovery Day Saturday when they stopped in Minot to assist in several projects to rebuild flooded homes.
Representing an organization called Bike & Build, 32 volunteers spent much of Saturday working on homes before hitting the road again.
"Our mission is to raise money and awareness for affordable housing," said cyclist Donnie Radcliffe of Pardeeville, Wis.
Stacie Peterson and Jessica Crumble-Sharpe with AmeriCorps sweep up debris in a flooded house in Minot where volunteers were tearing down to the wood frame Saturday.
Cyclists participate in builds in communities all along their routes, often for Habitat for Humanity or similar groups.
Bike & Build is sponsoring eight tours this year, and the group passing through Minot is in route from Portsmouth, N.H., to Vancouver, B.C. Each cyclist is required to put in 500 miles of training, volunteer 10 hours with an affordable housing group and raise $4,500 before starting the ride. The money pays expenses of the trip, but more than half is donated to affordable housing projects.
Every participant also gets to select and donate to a housing organization. Often the choices are the groups to which the participants contributed sweat equity prior to the trip. Churches that volunteer to host cyclists overnight receive donations that they can use to help with local build projects in their communities.
Bike & Build has donated $3.3 million to organizations over its 10-year history, said cyclist Bryn Sowash of Columbus, Ohio. Participants have biked about 5 million miles and donated more than 100,000 hours to building projects.
People can participate in a tour only twice.
"It's hard to do this more than once," Radcliffe said, citing the time commitment and endurance.
"It's an intense physical challenge," said cyclist Francis Sams of DeLand, Fla.
In Minot, AmeriCorps split the bikers into teams working at six different sites.
John Miller, a leader for the AmeriCorps team currently working in Minot, said the team organized the Community Recovery Day to engage the community in service. He understands that many in the community are getting volunteered out, but he also sees the continued need for help.
"It's definitely eye opening that after a year, there's still people's houses that look like this," he said, pointing out the largely gutted house in southeast Minot that the team was working on. "In terms of long-term recovery, it's going to take a while, but there's more than enough people willing to help, and the homeowners really do appreciate it."