Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cycling event aims to help the homeless

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 5:59 PM

click to enlarge NSO_biking_event.jpg
The Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) has been serving Detroit since 1955. Their purpose is to help people in need and strengthen and empower neighborhoods and families. Over the years their programs have grown to draw national attention and this Sunday one of those events is taking place in Detroit.

Handlebars for the Homeless is a five-year-old NSO event that was spearheaded by board member David Rudolph. It's a guided bike tour that will take cyclists through some of Detroit's finest neighborhoods including Palmer Park, Boston Edison, Sherwood Forest, and the University of Detroit-Mercy. 

For $30 bikers will take the 16-mile tour and receive a free t-shirt. They'll also get the satisfaction of knowing they've had a hand in helping the more than 20,000 homeless people that live in Detroit. 

The event will take place on Sunday, August 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. The ride starts at the NSO Building (better known as the Michigan Bell Building) at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit. 

Rudolph, who runs a PR company out of Detroit as well, understands that it's hard to sell a ticketed ride to folks who can go to Slow Roll for free every Monday night. And while he gives Slow Roll all the dues it deserves, he's hoping people will get what they'll be giving back if they take this ride. 

As an avid longtime biker, Rudolph says he got a real education when he started cycling through the city. He says, like most people, he believed that homeless people were that way because of some fault of their own.

"I'm no longer of the opinion that I need to be judgmental about it. I used to think people were homeless because they didn't do something," he says.

But riding through the city on two wheels instead of four, going 15 miles per hour rather than 50, Rudolph says you get a different view of these people.

"You never know what brought a person to that point, but it's usually mental illness. As a biker you understand that these people are not well," he says.  

"You go to Midtown and you'll see the Tumaini Center and you'll see the homeless camped out waiting to find an opportunity to come in and find a place to not sleep on the streets," says Rudolph. "NSO will take anyone is any situation. It's a big organization with many services. They're trying to capture these people and help them deal with their problems. If NSO doesn't help them, no one will."

This year is also the first time the annual bike ride fundraiser will be held as a separate event from the 5K run/walk that also raises money for the organization. 

Check nso-mi.org for more info. 

More by Alysa Offman

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