Wayside provides wheels, new start to Louisville's homeless

Wayside Christian Mission is helping people get back on their feet with a set of wheels.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Wayside Christian Mission is helping people get back on their feet with a set of wheels.

The program has been in Louisville for several years, and is just now gaining some traction.

Drive along Jefferson Street in downtown Louisville, and most people wouldn't give a barn another look. So, few would notice Andy Dyson or all of his bicycles. "There's a demand for it," Dyson said.

The barn serves as Dyson's bike shop. "Whenever I'm in, I do repairs for people, no questions asked," he said.

However, this is not just any bike shop. "I like working here because we're really bringing things back to life. These are bikes that people don't want. So, it's fun to get them running again," he said.

Dyson fixes any bike for no charge through Wayside Christian Mission. Others he makes like new. "Anything from half an hour to three or four hours, depends, if they need a lot of work, then it takes a while," he said.

He was hired by Peter Burkhart, who created the idea about 15 years ago and partnered with Wayside. "It was such a great experiment, that we kept it going. It has proven results," Burkhart said.

The idea only recently started to take off, thanks to Dyson. "We can be consistent, and have consistent hours and get consistent work done," Burkhart said.

The program, known as Wayside Wheels, gives bicycles to Wayside Mission clients like Brian Tomes. "I was walking. I was walking so much that I was losing weight tremendously," Tomes said. "I'm a college grad, I'm a military veteran, I have a cosmetology license, state certified in two states, then you feel like a failure."

"It's an opportunity for people to get back working and supporting themselves, and a good bike can be part of that," Dyson said.

Tomes recently received his bike. "With this bicycle that you earn, and it is an incentive to do better and to lift yourself up out of it. It becomes a vehicle or a catalyst to be a better person than when you were the day before, which I think is tremendously great," Tomes said.

Dyson has given out about 20 bicycles so far. "This is what we wanted all these years, and we finally got it," Burkhart said.

They're giving Louisville's homeless population a head start. "People may or may not have preconceptions or assumptions about homeless people, but I can tell you that it's a fine group of people here who we are working with, and it's a privilege to work with them," Dyson said.

Their mission is made possible by community donations. "A bike can mean the difference between being able to get to a program or get to a job or not. So, that's why we're asking for people to help us out here and get some bikes in," he said.

Bikes or bike parts can be dropped off at Wayside Christian Mission at 432 East Jefferson Street in Louisville.

To volunteer to help fix bicycles, click here for more information and to get in touch.

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