Everyone is welcome to volunteer at the co-op, from experienced bicycle shop techs to folks with no mechanical experience at all. We ask only that volunteers observe the core values of Respect, Resourcefulness, and Reciprocity described in our non-discrimination policy. We want people to learn as well as to contribute, and try to make each task educational for each individual's skill level (Of course, we still need to do mundane shop tasks like cleaning, organizing, and filling in forms, but we endeavor to balance the mundane with the engaging as much as possible.)
We use shop credits to reward everyone for their help. Children can volunteer with an adult, as described on our Earn A Bike page.
How to sign up
To begin volunteering everyone should attend a drop-in orientation session, held from 7 to 9pm on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. No reservation is needed (but if that time does not work for you please contact us for other arrangements). After that you don't need to schedule any times, the only requirements are that you have at least one hour to spend volunteering each time you visit; that you observe our non-discrimination policy; and wear closed-toe shoes and closed-heel shoes.
If you have specific questions about volunteering, feel free to contact our Volunteer Coordinator: volunteering@OhioCityCycles.org.
When you can volunteer
Volunteers are welcome during any of our retail service times (see OCBC's current hours to the right). Unskilled volunteers (who have not taken or tested out of our Repair Classes) are limited to two hours in one visit, and five hours per week. (We are flexible about this, but have to be sure we don't run out of basic tasks for beginners to do.)
We also need volunteers to help staff off-site events we do, like kids' traffic skills classes (rodeos) at schools and community events, valet bike parking at festivals, tabling at community outreach events, and Bicycle Scavenger Hunts.
For news on volunteering opportunities, sign up for our mailing list! We send out an email when we need volunteers to staff events or when we have news that affects our volunteers. On the right hand side of our website, there is a link to subscribe to our mailing list.
Volunteers interested in working on bikes are encouraged to take our Repair Classes. These classes are the training we require of volunteers before they can begin tuning up bikes. Our mechanic volunteers tune up our rental bikes, as well as fix bikes for us to sell on our retail floor. Click on the link for our Repair Classes for more information.
What volunteers do
We try to find volunteering tasks which are educational, rewarding, and matched to anyone's skill level. Sometimes there is shop "house-keeping" work to be done like cleaning, organizing or moving bikes around, but usually volunteers will work on something bike-related. However, on Saturdays during the summer we are often very busy and can't always spend as much time personally assisting volunteers as we would like.
Volunteers interested in working on bikes are encouraged to take our Repair Classes.
These classes are the training we require of volunteers before they can
begin tuning up bikes. Our mechanic volunteers tune up our rental
bikes, as well as fix bikes for us to sell on our retail floor. Click on
the link for our Shop Classes for more information.
If you have particular skills like bookkeeping, graphics or web design, construction or plumbing, please mention that; we can probably use your talents! If you are an experienced bike mechanic, we'll have you fix a bike for sale if you want to test out of the repair classes, and start right in helping others learn to use their bikes.
Youth Volunteering with an adult
Any children, from the age of about 8 through 15 years old can earn a bike any time the shop is open by volunteering with a parent/legal guardian or other adult their parent has designated (such as a relative, caseworker, Big Brother or Big Sister, etc.). One adult may bring up to three children, and must work with them during the entire time they are here. Kids 16 and 17 years old can volunteer without a parent, once their parent provides a schedule of their visits and the release form below.
If designating another adult, or for kids over 15, parents are
urged to attend the orientation (below) or at least visit the shop to complete
our permission/release form, but the form is also available here if
necessary (please use one copy of this
form for each child):
Release Form (PDF file -- if needed, you can download the reader here)
Adults working with Earn A Bike students will also earn volunteering credits they may use in the same ways as any Volunteer, or may apply them towards an upgraded bike for their child (but the child must still meet the other Earn A Bike requirements).
What volunteers get
For any time spent volunteering, everyone gets 5 credits/hour toward using our shop stands and tools, purchases of used parts, and Repair Classes tuition. Shop credits can be used for up to $150 of the price of a refurbished bike, and can not be applied to new parts or accessories.
OCBC works by people volunteering; so we try and make it as fun, rewarding, and pleasant as possible. We expect only that everyone practice Respect, Resourcefulness, and Reciprocity. Our goal is to reciprocate your time with education: we hope you can learn something that will help you use your bicycle.
We frequently have good food around for volunteers (feel free to bring something to share). If you partake in meals provided by the co-op, we encourage you to make a donation to help us cover the cost of these meals.
The Key volunteer program is a structured program of volunteers who choose what ways they want to help and commit to scheduled times to help in the shop, with responsibility for many of the same tasks our small staff normally handle. Key volunteers have all take our shop classes and are trainedto help shop users, retail customers, volunteers, and students. You'll recognize Key volunteers around the shop because they'll have OCBC nametags on! This group is important to the co-op because they provide extra assistance to all visitors to OCBC and staff. Once trained and scheduled to cover a reasonable number of open hours, Key Volunteers receive a discount on new items (of 10% above cost) and can use the shop for their own repairs during closed hours.
If you are interested in becoming a Key Volunteer, email the volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCBC is a great place to do some meaningful, educational and fun volunteer work together with colleagues, co-workers, or friends. We can accommodate up to 20 people, with prior arrangements made at least 3 weeks in advance (more notice is helpful during busier times of the year). Group visits should last from 2-4 hours, and volunteering can be combined with a group bike rental for completing a Traffic Skills Intro ride or a guided tour, if desired.
For groups of up to 15 we try to choose something from our Ten Tasks that will help process some of the many bikes we have donated, and also impart some useful bike knowledge. Tasks that can be done by larger groups range from collaborative sit-down work like sorting small parts, to large painting, building or cleaning projects.
Children need to be accompanied by a legal guardian, or have this form (PDF) completed listing the adults who will be accompanying them. For most small group work a ratio of 1 adult to 3 children is needed.
All groups have a tour of our facility and a brief overview of OCBC's work, but we don't take the group's time for a full volunteer orientation, so in most cases group members do not clock in for shop credits, but are encouraged to return on their own to volunteer if they wish.
To make arrangements for a volunteer group please email general info including group size, desired time of visit, and any special objectives, with the best time for a phone call to discuss details.
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