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Family Promise bike ride benefits homeless

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    Jon Roth, of Lowhill Township, participated in Saturday’s “Cycle Out Homelessness” ride for Family Promise of Carbon County. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published September 24. 2018 12:28PM

There are a lot opportunities to give back to your community, and on Saturday, residents from various counties and townships gathered at the D & L Trail to do just that.

On Saturday, Family Promise of Carbon County hosted a Cycle Out Homelessness bike trail ride to raise funds for its daily operations. Since January the organization has experienced numerous financial troubles, increasing its need for outreach events.

The ride was sponsored by AllOne Charities, which was described as a “health care grant-making and grant-seeking organization,” that works “to improve access to health care for people who need it most” by its executive director, John Cosgrove, who rode 20 miles on Saturday.

AllOne has worked with Family Promise of Carbon County in the past, Cosgrove said, which solidified their partnership this past weekend.

“We’re really impressed with the work that they do,” he said. “It’s a very direct, very measurable, service to people that need it most, particularly families that are experiencing homelessness.”

“Any kind of community support for (Family Promise) is worth it,” he added.

By late afternoon, Tom Phifer of Schnecksville wasn’t tired at all, despite having ridden 30 miles that morning.

“I do this all the time,” Phifer said of biking trails.

For Phifer, participating in Family Promise of Carbon County’s Cycle Out Homelessness ride came down to one factor: its cause.

“I would have been out here riding anyway on the trail because I’m out here all the time, but I saw the sign and I’m sympathetic to the cause,” Phifer said.

“It hits a nerve with me,” he said. “I’ve donated money and goods, but not my actual time doing anything for (the homeless).” After Saturday’s excursion, that had changed.

Jon Roth of Lowhill Township registered for the event just hours before it began. After reading about it, Roth decided to join the congregation of bikers pedaling on Family Promise of Carbon County’s behalf.

One of Roth’s motivations came from personal circumstance. Recently, Roth said, he’s found himself in a situation where he “might not have a real home of (his) own for a while.”

“I’m in the process of having to sell a house and couch surfing for a little bit before I can re-establish,” Roth shared. “That makes me think: If that’s tough for me mentally to handle, what would it be like for a whole family?”

In Roth’s experience, not having a place to call home has meant storing personal belongings in multiple places and in different cities. At the same time, he’s also had to buckle down on what he owns, sternly holding on to only two items: His chain saws and his bike.

“I’ve been blessed to have a good education,” Roth said. “If this is this tough and stressful for me, what is it like for a whole family that is together, or say a single mom with kids that have literally nowhere to go?”

Sky Fogal, the president of Family Promise of Carbon County, said a little more than 50 people showed up to Saturday’s bike ride. While the organization was aiming for a larger crowd, Fogal said that given the weather, the turnout wasn’t a surprise.

“The weather this year has just not been conducive to outdoor sports,” Fogal said.

Still, the organization is keeping its hopes high, and if it repeats the event next year, as Fogal said it intends to do, the goal will be to nearly double attendance.

“If we can grow this event to 100, 120 people then we would expect that to be up to possibly a quarter of our total revenue,” Fogal estimated. “That’s what our goal is for this event — to make this our big fundraiser for the year.”

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