Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Connor Ciment, Fuller Center Bike Adventure trip leader, has had a roller-coaster of a last two years. In fact, little in his life has remained the same, other than a love for his bicycle.

After graduating college in May of 2015, Ciment joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. “I loved riding my bike, and I was looking for a way to do it across the country,” he said. “I took a leap of faith, and jumped on the ride right out of college.”

Once on the ride, Ciment learned the trip leader position would be open. Already having fallen in love with the mission, Ciment “got really attached to what The Fuller Center does, especially how it does it.” Shortly thereafter, he committed to a year of service with the Fuller Center.

As a graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in mechanical engineering, the physical act of building houses was attractive to Ciment. Reflecting on past builds he has worked on in America, he fondly remembers “where the whole group worked together as one body on one single project, especially alongside the homeowners.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Ciment to develop an interest in participating in a Global Builders trip internationally. Appropriately enough, it was a fellow cyclist that initiated his dream becoming a reality.

“Mike Oliphant, who rode the Natchez Trace with me in 2016, reached out to ask if I wanted to co-lead a Global Builders trip with him. I jumped at the chance.” After working out the details, the duo traveled to Pigñon, Haiti, last month

With the trip in the rear-view mirror, Ciment is even more deeply invested in The Fuller Center than he was before.

Ciment is quick to address the profound effect of cultural barriers on the experience: “Building in the US, it’s like having home-field advantage; you speak the language, you understand the culture. In Haiti, I didn’t speak the language, and I wasn’t necessarily aware of the full context of culture around me.”

Through the week, however, Ciment was impressed by the connections he and the team were able to form despite the barriers between them. “Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier. By the third day, there’s a certain silent ballet going on, you know each other well enough to work seamlessly without ever having spoken a sentence.”

Ciment reflects on the moment he began to integrate into the community around him. “Suez, a Haitian mason, was laying blocks, and he called for me to pick up a block for him. Instead of placing it for me, he let me place it in the mortar myself. It was kind of an extra step towards inviting me into a bigger portion of the building process, which was a really cool level of comfort that we reached together. Again, we still hadn’t spoken.”

“Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier.” — Connor Ciment

When asked if his week in Haiti affected how he saw the Fuller Center as a whole, Ciment didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely. You witness the dramatic impact you can have on a family’s life. It really brings me a lot of gratitude that I can be a part of such an organization.

“It also brings new meaning to the Bike Adventure, which is raising a lot of money. With this experience I can see infinitely more tangibly how impactful the fundraising is for folks in need, all over the world.”

Ciment left Haiti deeply impressed by the strong local Fuller Center leadership. “Gerald is doing an amazing job, and I am extremely proud to be working alongside him as his efforts go far beyond housing, most directly including education. The school that he is the principal for is churning out young leaders who will be the generation that continues to lift up Pigñon and lift up Haiti and bring it to be the healthy and prosperous country that it can be.”

Click here for more information on global builders

 

University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences report features Bicycle Adventure leaders

University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences report features Bicycle Adventure leaders

The University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences has published an article about how and why Alabama grads Henry Downes and Connor Ciment decided to put their skills into action to help others by volunteering to lead The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure — the single biggest fundraiser for The Fuller Center for Housing’s work around the world. You can read the complete article at the link below.

Alumnus bike for better housing

Bicycle Adventure leaders featured in University of Alabama student newspaper article

Bicycle Adventure leaders featured in University of Alabama student newspaper article

Connor Ciment and Henry Downes sit a few feet apart at the headquarters of The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., as they finalize plans for the 2017 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure’s spring, summer and fall rides. But as the University of Alabama’s Crimson White student newspaper reports, they’re used to working near each other as they were roommates at the University of Alabama, the school from which they both graduated in 2015. The Crimson White features the dynamic duo in this article about how they put off graduate studies and job hunting to work with The Fuller Center to help families have simple, decent places to live.

Full Crimson White article

Bike Adventure unveils new ride: Weeklong Dirt to D.C. begins September 2017 in Pittsburgh

Bike Adventure unveils new ride: Weeklong Dirt to D.C. begins September 2017 in Pittsburgh

2017 was already shaping up to be the biggest year of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure ever. Now, considering this morning’s announcement of a new ride, it definitely will be!

Alongside three different summer routes, a spring ride down the Natchez Trace, and a weekend Silver Comet ride, the Bike Adventure is excited to announce an entirely new ride: Dirt to D.C.!

Dirt to D.C. (September 16 – 24, 2017) is a unique ride in many ways — primarily in that it will take place on unpaved roads. The weeklong ride will follow the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Washington D.C.

The 2016 Bike Adventure year set fundraising and participation records, raising $300,000 for the first time, as well as prompting a split into two rides to accommodate growing interest.

2017 will be the 10th year of the Bike Adventure, with a fundraising goal of $400,000. Help us raise our two-millionth dollar by participating as a cyclist, or donating to the cause!

learn more about dirt to d.c. here

Bike Adventure inspires Steffani Zavala to put creativity to work in support of ministry

Bike Adventure inspires Steffani Zavala to put creativity to work in support of ministry

For Steffani Zavala, participation in the 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure was only the beginning of her love of the organization. Alongside her husband Luke, Steffani rode her bike from Seattle, Wash., to Washington, D.C., to raise funds and awareness for The Fuller Center for Housing.

Full of creative energy, Steffani has a passion for designing her own jewelry. “I first became interested in learning to make jewelry when I took my college roommate to a jewelry making class in downtown Chicago for her birthday. I had such a blast that I came home and started taking apart some of my broken jewelry and seeing if I could turn them into new pieces,” Steffani said of the beginnings of her interest. “From there, I developed a collection of beads using not only pieces of old jewelry, but bead donations from my mom and her friends, and gemstones I found at local jewelry shows.”

Steffani first shared this interest with others when she decided to make homemade jewelry for her bridesmaids as a unique gift. When it came to taking this interest to the next level, Steffani was hesitant to begin selling her work. She was interested in the online marketplace known as Etsy, where anyone can sell their creations. Before taking the plunge, she had a few criteria: it had to feel right, be symbolic to a life experience, and benefit an organization she cared about. After her 2016 Bike Adventure experience, the Fuller Center was at the forefront of her mind. 

“I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us.”

“When I realized that my jewelry restoration process could be a metaphor for the housing restoration projects that The Fuller  Center does, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind and started making pair after pair of earrings — more than 75 since being home from the trip, ending in August,” says Steffani of her post-adventure inspiration. “I only have about 25 or so listings on Etsy now, but I’m continuing to post them weekly, at least.” She said 75 percent of the proceeds are donated to The Fuller Center.

The earrings that Steffani makes are thought through individually, often expressing memories. “Each pair of earrings has a story, just like the people The Fuller Center builds houses for and the volunteers and employees who make it happen. This summer, instead of collecting souvenirs from every state or town we visited, I chose to collect stories. I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us. By making my earrings, I turn those moments into visual artwork pieces, materializing my experience.”

“I want the themes of listening to our hearts and hearing where we are being called to serve in this life to be prevalent–hence the name of my store, EndEARRINGly. The definition of endearingly is, ‘inspiring affection; to make dear or beloved.’ This name perfectly fits my vision.”

click here to shop steffani’s etsy store

logo

 


 

RELATED VIDEO — 2017 Summer Ride Announcement

Bicycle Adventure reveals routes for summer of 2017

Bicycle Adventure reveals routes for summer of 2017

The 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure set a goal of raising $250,000 this year for The Fuller Center’s work of building and repairing homes in partnership with families needing simple, decent places to live.

Donors to riders on the 3,500-mile summer ride from Seattle to D.C. and the 400-mile weeklong spring ride down The Natchez Trace Parkway smashed that goal, contributing a record $296,000 (so far) toward the riders’ efforts. That total was boosted by record participation by cyclists, requiring the summer Adventure to split into two packs starting their summer rides one week apart.

In 2017, there will again be two summer rides, but they won’t be following the same paths. Allow our route leaders Connor Ciment and Henry Downes to tell you more in the video below. Then, please visit FullerCenterBikeAdventure.org for more information.

 

Retired Iowa farmer Bob Hibma, 78, talks about ‘biking for a purpose’

Retired Iowa farmer Bob Hibma, 78, talks about ‘biking for a purpose’

For two weeks this summer, Bob Hibma pedaled his bicycle from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Peoria, Illinois during two weeklong segments of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. Bob sat down with the Northwest Iowa Review to talk about how he first got involved with the charity ride and what the experience is like. The article also mentions Northwest Iowa’s Salem Reformed Church and the work they did with The Fuller Center during a service week in Pearl River, Louisiana.

View the complete article

Congratulations, cyclists! Our 3,500-mile summer Bicycle Adventure is in the books

Congratulations, cyclists! Our 3,500-mile summer Bicycle Adventure is in the books

The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure wrapped up its record-setting 2016 Summer Ride in Washington, D.C., today, having raised more than $285,000 — and counting — for The Fuller Center’s work across the United States and around the world.

Funds are still being tallied, but the ride far exceeded its goal of $250,000 early in the 3,500-mile ride from Seattle to D.C. — an achievement accomplished the first few weeks of the ride. The ride also set new records for participation. In fact, the ride had to be divided into an Orange Ride that departed Seattle on June 11 and a Blue Ride that left a week later. The two rides merged on Friday and rode into D.C. together on Saturday.

Fuller Center President David Snell congratulated the riders Saturday on their safe and successful journey.

“The 2016 Summer Bicycle Adventure is now a part of our history — and what a ride it was, rides, actually,” Snell said. “Two groups of intrepid souls crossed the country, raising money and awareness and helping with some Fuller Center projects along the way. There’s no way to adequately thank them for their sacrifices — hopefully the memory of doing something truly remarkable, truly kind will be enough. Congratulations to all — to those who made the entire trip and to those who joined for a day or a week or two. You are true partners and friends to this ministry.”

Stay tuned to FullerCenter.org next week for more details about the ride’s success and future plans.