Volunteering with people you adore is a great way to spend time together and give back to your community. Just ask Anakaren and Miguel.
The pair began volunteering with the SF Bicycle Coalition last December and quickly became regulars at our free Valet Bike Parking, showing up to help keep bikes safe and secure at events across the city. They’ve since given over 80 hours combined to the SF Bicycle Coalition! Read on to learn how they got involved and what it is about volunteering that means so much to them.
What made you start volunteering with the SF Bicycle Coalition?
Anakaren: Last year Miguel surprised me with tickets to a Giants game. The day of the game I told him it would be a really good idea for us to ride our bikes to avoid the crowds on Muni. I was looking for bike parking near or in the stadium online and discovered the SF Bicycle Coalition’s free Valet Bike Parking at the stadium.
When we got there we saw that the line was huge, and that they were running out of space for more bikes. I realized that a lot of people really depend on this service for peace of mind, knowing that their bikes are safe during the game. I wanted to help provide this essential service to Giants fans.
Miguel: We were thinking about joining the SF Bicycle Coalition for a while, but it wasn’t until a Sunday Streets on Valencia St. when we finally joined. We felt like it was such a great service when they took care of our bikes during the Giants game, though, that we wanted to do more than become members. So we found out about the volunteering opportunities and the free Valet Bike Parking naturally caught our attention.
What has been your favorite volunteer moment?
Miguel: I would say my favorite was our first time doing Valet Bike parking. It was at Una Pizza Napoletana during a Bike Show. The event was packed, so there were many bikes coming and going. At the end of the day, we parked about 100 bikes during a two-to-three hour shift.
Something really cool about doing Valet Bike Parking is that you keep talking with all these people who come, and they’re all bike enthusiasts. You see some really cool custom bikes. I remember a bike that a guy had with a front space for his dog.
What do you do with your spare time when you’re not volunteering with the SF Bicycle Coalition?
Anakaren: Miguel and I are not from around here. We’re from Monterrey, Mexico, and even though we’ve lived here for almost two years, we haven’t entirely explored all that there is to the city. So almost every weekend we go out, either by public transportation or on our bikes, and wander around looking for more restaurants, parks and activities. When Miguel is at work, I like to look up new recipes and bake sweet empanadas, cookies and cupcakes.
Why do you enjoy volunteering together?
Anakaren: I’ve always been shy, and if it weren’t for Miguel’s persistence, I would have never signed us up for our first volunteer shift. Thanks to him, I’ve been able to put myself out there and volunteer even more with the SF Bicycle Coalition. And I’m always on the lookout for more Valet Bike events. Sometimes I have to convince Miguel that it’s actually no big deal to wake up really early in the morning and bike to wherever we need to go for our shift. It’s always a team effort between us.
What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about volunteering with the SF Bicycle Coalition, either by themselves or with a friend/loved one?
Miguel: I think there isn’t really much advice to give other than, do it!
It might seem like a lot of work but the people you meet and the time you spend together during the events is worth it. It might seem like three hours are many hours, but in reality, time flies, especially when you are having fun and talking a lot with your significant other, or with your best friend, or one of the supervisors, who are really friendly, so they will become great friends of yours after those 3 hours.
Want to volunteer like Anakaren and Miguel? We park over 15,000 bicycles every year though our Valet Bike Parking and we always need more help. Check out our upcoming projects and sign up online!