KENTVILLE, NS - It’s a cycling team made up of individuals who want to pay forward the help and support they’ve received from the community.
Paul Finnemore of Kentville, who initiated Pedal for Others (PFO) last year, is a full-time student at the Acadia Divinity College, pursuing a Master’s degree in his transition to becoming a military chaplain.
Finnemore began a work term at The Refuge and the Valley Gate Vineyard Christian Fellowship last spring and recognized that there were clients in need of something to do. He decided to form a cycling team with clients from The Refuge to help promote physical fitness and to realize other benefits. It has since grown to about 10 members, including clients from The Youth Portal and Canadian Mental Health Association.
“The team brings a certain sense of belonging, a certain sense of values, self-worth, accomplishment, determination and it increases morale,” Finnemore said. “It’s also teaching us to give back to the community.”
He said they have members who struggle with mental health. Getting outside to be active in the fresh air and enjoy the countryside can be very helpful to them.
Finnemore said it’s called Pedal for Others because he thought it would be great to have members not only train for a bike-a-thon but also support a charitable cause in the process. Last spring, they teamed up with Feed Nova Scotia to hold a food drive in Kentville in association with a group ride. They canvassed 500 homes and collected sponsorships in the form of almost 2,000 pounds of food donations.
This year, the group and additional volunteers plan to canvass approximately 1,000 homes in Kentville in an attempt to double the amount of food donations collected. Group members will be hanging shopping bags containing information brochures on door handles in advance of this year’s bike-a-thon, which is taking place on June 16. Members will be cycling from Kentville to Annapolis Royal.
The following day, on June 17, members and volunteers will be visiting the homes again to collect the shopping bags with the food donations. Finnemore said residents could meet them at the door or simply leave the bag of donations on the doorstep.
He said they’re working with people in PFO who may have never had the opportunity to do something charitable for the community.
“The joy of giving is something that many don’t understand or haven’t had the chance to experience, so we want to introduce them to that,” he said.
As an incentive or reward, those who participate in the food drive and bike-a-thon will be taking part in the Gran Fondo – Baie Sainte Marie cycling event on the south shore in September. A fundraising initiative associated with this event is being discussed.
PFO plans to harness the efforts of The Youth Portal participants to tell the public about the Homeless No More initiative, a local plan to end youth homelessness by 2027.
Finnemore said they’re grateful for the support of the Mud Creek Rotary Club, PFO’s main sponsor. The club has helped fund the purchase of bicycles and other equipment.
Giving back to community
PFO member Skyler Saunders of Kentville said he has received help and support from The Youth Portal and wants to pay it forward.
“The community has done a lot for me so it’s nice to do something for the community,” Saunders said.
He is interested in fitness and enjoys outdoor activities such as cycling, so PFO was a good fit for him. He’s eagerly anticipating the ride to Annapolis Royal.
Saunders said supporting a good cause like Feed Nova Scotia is also good for PFO members, as it “gives them a feeling of belonging, team work and leadership.”
PFO member Brian Greencorn of Kentville said he has been the “right hand man” to Finnemore in getting all the bicycles, helmets and other gear organized for the rides and maintaining the equipment.
Greencorn, who has received help and support from The Refuge, said he’s always enjoyed cycling and he sees his involvement with PFO as a way to give back to a community which has helped him.
When it comes to the upcoming ride to Annapolis Royal, Greencorn said he’s looking forward to it and he’s “ready to go.” Greencorn has already been out collecting some food donations from family members and friends.
If you would like to participate in PFO as a cyclist, volunteer or financial donor, contact Finnemore at 902-300-3126 or email email@example.com. For more information, visit the PFO Facebook page.