Archive for June, 2011

The Hills are Getting Smaller

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

6-30-11An early morning phone call to the Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, set into action a most amazing day. Bud Scharfetter, Director of the RCCADV agreed to meet me a half hour after I cold-called his office. How could he say no to a guy pedaling 7,400 miles for a cause that is his life’s passion. Bud allowed us to interview him and he talked with us about the work his agency does for the residents of Ross County. His office is busy; one thousand new cases are referred to his office every year, of a total of only eighty thousand residents. Bud is an “out on the streets” kind of guy when it comes to doing his job, meeting and talking with those in the community.
Bud arranged for us to do a taped interview with Mike Smith at radio station WBEX 1490 AM. Mike has a popular morning show, The Dan and Mike Show. Mike is also a very big proponent in the fight against Domestic Violence. I also had an interview with Heather Cory of the Chillicothe Gazette, this too, was arranged by Bud. Heather was very professional and concise in her job. She called back late in the day to say the newspaper was going to make it a front page story in their Sunday edition. Thank you to everyone for the big welcome to Chillicothe.
Today’s ride of nearly 50 miles was a breeze as we cruised the streets and a sensational bike path in this friendly town.

The picture today is of a quilt which hangs in the reception area of the Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It contains the names of 16 women who died in Ross County, in a little more than a decade.

“Like Three Jumbo Jets Crashing”

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

6-29-11Brian Namey of the National Network to End Domestic Violence recently said to me that the amount of women who die each year in the United States from Domestic Violence is “Like three jumbo jets crashing.” Can you imagine if that such an aviation disaster were to ever take place? It would be front page news in every newspaper. Programming on every television station would be immediately interrupted. Investigations from every related governing body would be done. There would be public uproar! Sadly, there is no public uproar over Domestic Violence. Life continues on as usual and the victims are just a number.
Today, as it is every day, as I pedal my way across the United States, I encounter many people who share there stories with me. Today a woman named Erika told me she was one of the lucky ones. She thought she was going to be 1 of those 3, on a day where her abuser almost took it too far; she was smart, she got out.
Kindness is the answer to Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual Abuse. I am convinced that any individual with a lifetime mind-set of kindness in their heart, would never be an abuser.  We need to teach kids this attitudinal belief when they are young.

Athens County Children’s Services

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

6-28-11 ATaking time to meet us at the Athens County Children Services offices, Executive Director, Andrea 6-28-11 BReik, Public Relations Director, Sherri Oliver and Deputy Director of Finance, W. Otis Crockron Jr. helped me to better understand the needs of so many in their community. The services provided by this agency are many, among them are; feeding the hungry, helping to overcome illiteracy, finding homes for children in foster care, training to help oneself and teaching parents how to be better role models. Two of the projects created by this agency I was impressed with are The Garden Project and Kidsfest. Both of these projects raise awareness and teaching visitors to the center about healthy life choices. The Garden Project donates produce to local groups throughout the growing season.
This agency deals with many of the everyday issues with children and family needs. It also addresses abuse and violence issues, which seem to happen far to often. I asked Andrea if she could tell me one of the successes of her agency and what gives her hope in her day to day dealing with all of the issues she has to face. Andrea showed me a picture of a young couple who adopted 5 siblings who were in her foster care; that is what brings her hope and makes it all worthwhile.
Today the weather was perfect for riding and I decided to “bank” 25 miles for future rides. We head for Chillicothe, Ohio tomorrow. Here’s to cool weather, as we head into the 2 hottest months of the year!

“Bogart Needs Biscuits”

Monday, June 27th, 2011

6-27-11On the side of The Kindness Bus, there are 3 places to hang signs. One of the signs says “Fan Mail For Bogart” another says “Bogart Needs Biscuits” and a third says “Please Donate For Fuel.” There are slots that are cut in the side of The Kindness Bus above the areas where the signs hang. Bogart has received all sorts of gifts and interesting items which people have left on, near or in The Kindness Bus. Chew toys, bones, food, a DVD of “Lady and the Tramp,” thousands of pieces of fan mail, etc… Today he received a box of biscuits, weighing nearly 5 pounds. I’m thinking Bogart is good until the end of the year.
Today was a big day for The Kindness Bicycle Tour, big in total miles, 76, and big in great connections and conversations.
The day started early with an interview with Joe Higgins of the Athens Messenger. Joe wrote a wonderful article about One Million Acts Of Kindness a year and a half ago on our last visit to Athens. Cam, a very complimentary young man from Melbourne, Australia told me the message signs on The Kindness Bike were the best signs he has seen in a year. Although Athens is primarily a college town, home to Ohio University, hundreds of students were still out on the streets and in the shops early this Monday morning. Parents with young kids on summer vacation loved the thought of someone addressing these 2 issues in such a public way. The Kindness Bus has been on the busiest corner in Athens and is a lesson in itself for those who view its messages.

Ride Between the Raindrops

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Today was one of those days when I knew the moment I woke up, there was no way I was gonna get all of my miles ridden, so I did my 2nd favorite thing as it rained, my laundry. Visiting the laundromat is always something I look forward to doing as I have a captive audience and undoubtedly someone wants to talk about The Kindness Bus and my mission. One person even asked me how I got my shirts so white: “Ancient Chinese secret.”
My ride today left me wet on a few occasions and it wasn’t until the late afternoon came that the rain finally stopped. The streets filled as the weather improved with people wanting to get in some outdoor time before the weekend came to a close this Sunday evening.

Hearing From the “Locals”

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

6-25-11Heading south from Vienna, West Virginia, through Parkersburg, we headed across the Ohio River towards Athens, I came across many people who read about One Million Acts Of Kindness in the Parkersburg News and Sentinal. It is great to have a newspaper in a town where we are visiting, write an article about my mission, it seems by the reaction of people I interact with, that the articles have a high readership rate. Two of the people who had read the article were Kathy from the Parkersburg Country Club and Tom Azinger, a WV State Delegate with strong family values. Both were so complimentary in their comments of my mission to raise awareness about Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual abuse. It is important as I travel, to hear directly from “locals” about their perspective on these two issues.
With the lessening of grade changes, we made our way into Ohio toward three months of relative flatness.

West Virginia, The Mountain State

Friday, June 24th, 2011

6-24-11 CI love West Virginia, but her mountains don’t like me. Knowing that this round of vertical climbs is 6-24-11 Bpreparation for bigger climbs in the Rockies, challenges me to be a bit more fit when that moment arrives. The nearly fifty miles I rode today was almost a pleasure, helped by the clouds and the temperature in the low 70s.
We arrived in Parkersburg to meet with Judi Ball, Executive Director of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Parkersburg. She pulled out all the stops for our visit to her hometown. She had her entire staff, the Chief of Police, a couple of detectives and the press waiting for The Kindness Bicycle Tour when it pulled into the downtown area of Parkersburg. It is a great feeling and honor than to arrive for a short speech and have a crowd politely waiting. Thank you to everyone who showed up for my visit and made me feel welcome in Parkersburg, including the special parking privileges provided by the Chief.
6-24-11 AYesterday, John Joe Madia gave me 2 plush bears for the first 2 children I found who could use them. It took less than a day to find those bears a home, as all of the shelter advocates at the WVCADV agreed that they knew many children who could provide love to the bears.
Alicia from Legal Aid stopped by to meet The Kindness Bicycle Tour. She helps victims during a very emotional and stressful time, find the attorney suited for their particular case.
While riding today, Deborah flagged us down and bravely told us of her years of abuse and how Domestic Violence has affected her family for generations. Deborah has hopefully broken the cycle in her family and her own life by being a victim’s advocate for several years. If true, her tragic story will have a bright ending.

**Thank you to Pamela Brust for her wonderful article she wrote about One Million Acts Of Kindness in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel today.  A special thanks to Police Chief Joseph Martin and his men for taking the time to meet with me and for the Parkersburg Police patch which is already displayed in The Kindness Bus