KC's first bike shop run by people who are homeless helps them pedal to success

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 19:21:37-04

"For me, the only way you can be successful with something is when you start and finish it," Kevin Colbert said as he greased up a bike wheel. 

For Colbert, bikes are a metaphor for life. 

"Going up hills in Kansas City, you struggle up. But me, now, I fly up," he said. 

Turning a passion into a living, Colbert is the lead mechanic for Kansas City's first bike shop run by people who are homeless.  It's a new partnership between Hope Faith Ministries and BikeWalkKC to help people get on their feet.  

As an apprentice, Colbert puts the work in everyday, dividing his time between the two organizations. 

"I'll clean it up and it'll look like it's new," he said. 

He's always loved bikes, but now he's learning the ins and outs about how to fix one.

"It's just the thrill of working on one. Some parts on one bike might not fit on another bike, so you got to know what you're doing," Colbert said.

He makes sure each bike is safe and 100 percent up to code. 

"To get a bike going, to hand it out to somebody, I wouldn't let nobody ride that bike if I wouldn't ride it myself," Colbert said.

The bikes are donated from all over the metro, and sit in Hope Faith's warehouse waiting for Colbert to fix them up.  They're given to other homeless people in the Earn A Bike program who are working toward getting a job or going to school. Those in the program learn bike safety, maintenance, and riding skills. 

John Abernathy pats the seat of a forest green Huffy bike. 

"This bike ain't going nowhere away from me!" Abernathy said. 

The set of wheels changed his life. 

"A bike can go a long way. I got my overnight job because of my bike. So take my advice, a bike is good," Abernathy said.

Colbert said he doesn't need a $10,000 bike. It doesn't even have to be really nice. He said it's "all in the legs."

He out cruises the Kansas City streets on his black and blue bike every day. Wherever he ends up, he said, it'll be fixing bikes. 

"To get on your bike and just have a peace of mind, and just go," he said. "One thing about me, when I'm on my bike, I'm going to get where I'm going."

Hope Faith Ministries needs donated bike locks to make sure those who earned their bike can keep it.

Abernathy said he had three bikes stolen from him.

To donate a bike or a lock, click here or email Alfredo Palacol at