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Bike & Build Inspires Young Adults to “Pedal for Affordable Housing”

Bike & Build encourages young adults to “pedal for affordable housing” through service-oriented cycling trips across the United States. They envision future generations committed to creating fair housing for all Americans. We invited a member of Bike & Build to share her inspiring journey so you can learn about how this organization is enhancing the quality of life for thousands of Americans. 

Lily Goldberg

Lily Goldberg visited some of America’s most beautiful places while on her Bike & Build journey.

My name is Lily Goldberg, I am the Director of Outreach and Alumni Relations at Bike & Build. Bike & Build engages young adults in service-oriented cycling trips to raise money and awareness for the affordable housing cause. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that fosters a sustained connection to community. We advocate for the need for affordable housing in thousands of communities across the country.

Each summer we have 1 regional route and 5 cross-country routes. Our teams are made up of 36 young adults (riders between the ages of 18 and 26, leaders between 18 and 29). The teams spend their summers biking and stopping every 3-5 days to build affordable housing with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, YouthBuild, and many other affiliates across the country.

Founded in 2003, Bike & Build has granted over $6.4 million to affordable housing organizations. Our 3,600 alumni have pedaled over 11 million miles and spent over 236,000 hours building affordable homes.

Lily Goldberg at work on affordable housing construction. Lily Goldberg helped build affordable housing during her Bike & Build journey.

The Journey

I rode my bike across the country with Bike & Build in 2015. Bike & Build is a kaleidoscope of adventure, service, growth, and discovery. From the day I was enrolled on a team to the day we reached the Pacific Ocean, I never stopped learning.

Prior to the start of our journey, we had weekly affordable housing discussions and volunteered for at least 10 hours with affordable housing organizations in our cities. During this time I also learned how to fundraise, clip into my new pedals, ride in a group, ride in the rain, and build quad strength to be able to pedal from coast to coast. 

Along the journey our team had 18 build days where we took a break from our saddles and traded in our bikes for hammers. We learned demo, repairs, new construction, and everything in between. We met the families that would soon be proud homeowners and shared stories and laughs. I learned about what affordable housing looks like in vastly different parts of the US; however, no matter where you are, there is always a need for fair, decent, affordable housing.

Our group was primarily housed by churches, schools, and community centers along the way. I learned about the kindness of strangers; their willingness to let 30 sweaty, hungry, sleepy cyclists take over their spaces; their eagerness to feed us home cooked meals; their continued support and open arms to Bike & Build for years and years.

I learned a lot about myself as well. I discovered physical and mental strength. I learned what it really means to be part of a team. I learned leadership skills – gleaned from my leaders and teammates. I learned to live with less, appreciate the small things, and take a step back and appreciate what I take for granted; including the BIG things, like a place to call home.

We woke up early, we rode our bikes, we built affordable homes. Life was simple, yet so extraordinary.

I returned to my life in Philadelphia in August 2015. I jumped right back into the everyday of work and school. I felt a rush of productivity (after some extra hours of sleep) and eagerness to continue to give back. With this, I found myself pursuing internships working with housing in Philadelphia, as well as a part time job in the Bike & Build office. After graduating in 2017, I was lucky enough to take some time between transitioning from part-time to full-time in the office and ride our 3-week regional route, Drift West. This regional route was a dreamboat of beautiful scenery and service in the Pacific Northwest.

It has been a journey to get here, but the trajectory of my life over the past 3 years is attributed to riding my bike across the country for affordable housing with Bike & Build back in 2015. If you are reading this and are intrigued, I cannot encourage you enough to sign up. Bike & Build changed my life, I truly cannot imagine who I would be if I had not signed up for this magnificent adventure a few years ago.

Every individual’s experience and takeaways from their summer with Bike & Build are different, however I know I am not unique in the residual growth and empowerment that Bike & Build’s programming provides for young adults.

By: Lily Goldberg for Bike & Build

Lily Goldberg

Lily Goldberg during her Bike & Build journey.

Did this story inspire you? Learn more and consider applying to be a rider or a leader. Rider and leader applications close October 21, 2018. 


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