MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee bike shop has made its mission to get as many people riding a bike as possible.
"We want to make sure everyone's riding. Everybody's exercising. Everybody (has) as least a mode of transportation (to) just kind of get around the city, because we also help out veterans and the homeless as well, through certain programs," Gabriel Manzanet, the assistant manager at Dream Bikes said.
Dream Bikes, located on 2021 N. Dr. MLK Jr, Dr. in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood, is a nonprofit that refurbishes old and used bikes. Once the bike is fixed up, they resell it at a reduced cost. Prices range from $35 for a kids bike to about $200 for an adult bike. They have also donated around 15,000 bikes back to the community, which is roughly half the cost of other used bikes in the area. There is one location in Milwaukee and another in Madison.
"We want to make sure everybody is just out and about and able to enjoy the outdoors as best they can," Manzanet said.
He added that there is an emphasis on giving people an eco-friendly way to travel to reduce people's carbon footprint.
The community work doesn't stop at affordable bicycles. Dream Bikes also employs teens to give them hands-on learning experience that they can use to build their resume and get a job. The program is similar to an internship and lasts about eight weeks long. So far, the program has been successful with about 100 teens going through the program.
Jessica Wanye has been working at Dream Bikes for about eight years. She joined right after high school, and has seen the benefit it can give young adults.
"Especially like in the rougher community areas, kids don’t have any type of direction of knowing where to go or what to do with themselves as soon as they get home from school."
Mentoring teens is one of her favorite parts of the job. She said she can make a real difference in someone's life by giving them a head start towards finding a career.
Some of the students go to work at other bike shops. However, it's not required that you directly transfer your skills learned at Dream Bikes to the next opportunity. Students learn other skills like customer service, time management, workflow, and other more general job skills.
"Something to put on their resume for when they are looking or elsewhere," Gabriel Manzanet said, who also went through the program and since risen to assistant manager at the store.
Whether it's through working on a bike or donating one, Dream Bikes is helping people shift gears to experience the world on two wheels.