Every Wednesday night, while you may be at home cooking your family dinner, or resting from your day at work, a group of people meet at a quaint Midtown Memphis home. Cars equipped with bike racks line the streets, and everyone’s bikes cover the front yard. Cases of bottled water fill the porch. Warm pre-made burritos stuff the oven. A variety of other items, like jerky, granola bars, and chips fill the living room. The house is bustling with activity and excitement as people are about to embark on a mission. Welcome to the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry’s weekly meeting. The UBFM hits the streets by bike, traveling a variety of routes from Midtown to Downtown, supplying food and other basic needs to those affected by homelessness.
I was over the moon to hear I’d be joining them this cool and cozy mid-August night. I was even more excited that my fiance Clayton and best friend Megan came along for the ride! We arrived at the house at 7:30, and were immediately greeted by other enthusiastic volunteers. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Once inside, we got quickly oriented and began stuffing our packs with burritos and other donated food items. As 8:00 approached, Tommy, the man behind UBFM, gathered us outside. There were over 20 people there! He confirmed routes, split us into small groups (making sure to place us with veteran riders), and sent us on our way.
I enjoyed everything about our ride. We traveled 11.5 miles, from Midtown to Downtown and back, handing out our pack items to those in need. We pedaled some quiet streets, the downtown area full of music and people, down the trolley line on Main St, and beyond. We paused for a glimpse of the bridge over the river, which is always a favorite sight to see, followed by a ride through a LED-lighted tunnel. It wasn’t a particularly busy night, but the group said it tends to vary each week. We still managed to empty our packs of supplies. The veteran riders in our group made us all comfortable by showing us the ropes, which were simple but necessary. It was a pleasure meeting them all, learning how long they have participated and hearing that they have come back, again and again. The ride afforded us plenty of time to chat and get to know one another, which was really nice! I would gladly ride with them again.
Throughout the ride, I felt a sense of peace and purpose. I felt a part of not only the UBFM’s mission of service, but of other’s who do something to make this city a better place. Homelessness is all around us, yet it is easy to ignore. It’s easy to say “there’s nothing I can do.” But hopping on a bike, handing out burritos to those who are hungry and interacting in a simple and meaningful way, is enough. At the end of the night, returning tired and happy from our ride, I found Tommy again. We all expressed how much we loved participating in his outreach. Tommy started UBFM a little over a year ago, inspired by his apparent love of biking, fellowship, and ministry that works to do something real, something with an impact, in this city. And as he said, it’s really just a way for friends to get together and have fun. I concur. I had a blast and look forward to returning when I can, with friends!
Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in community outreach, empowering people through movement and education. If you know of a great fit, please send it my way: AdrieneHoops@gmail.com
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