Berea’s Bethel Baptist provides for traveling bicyclists
By KEITH TAYLOR
BEREA — When Phil Duggan needed a place for his Bike and Build group to stay, Kenny Davis and Bethel Baptist Church didn’t hesitate to extend a helping hand.
The non-profit organization made a stop in Madison County last week and stayed for two nights in the Bethel Baptist Church Family Life Center. The new facility, which recently received its certificate of occupancy from the City of Berea, provided more than enough space for the group.
“It’s very, very nice and the facility is great,” Duggan told the Berea Citizen in a recent story. “The air conditioning is great and people pulled out all of the stops.”
Davis said the building served its purpose last week and praised the group for willing to help those in need across the nation.
“Our desire was for it to be used for the furthering of God’s kingdom and minister to folks,” Davis said. “They (were) blessed by the building and that’s what the purpose of it is, to bless our community. We’re going to use it for God’s glory and ministry.”
“The scripture tells us we are to help those who are less fortunate and minister to those who are less fortunate. That’s our contribution, to make the facility available for those who desire to minister in our community in the name of Christ.”
Duggan said facilities like the Bethel Baptist Church Family Life Center is “fantastic for so many reasons.”
“Any costs we can defray on our trip, food, shelter, shower, all of that money will instead go to families in need for sustainable housing — that’s really big,” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity to meet members of the community. People really come out of the woodwork and support us in different ways. We love to talk about our mission.”
Bike and Build is an organization that “raises awareness for affordable housing” and “rely on the hospitality of community members” at each stop. They stay at churches, schools and anyone “willing to put a roof over our heads” to keep the costs “as low as possible.”
“We have three cross country trips (this summer) and we are the central United States trip,” said Duggan, a native of Buffalo, New York. “We are cycling from York Town Virginia to Seaside Oregon. The trip is going to take us approximately three months and along the way we will be volunteering in 14 different towns and cities across the country with different affordable housing organizations.”
Duggan said the 24 volunteers on the trek were strangers before beginning the cross-country journey in May.
“We have folks from all over,” he said. “No one knew each other before the trip, which is always interesting. We get very close, very quickly, because we are together 24 hours a day for three months.”
The group spent approximately eight hours last Friday assisting with Habitat for Humanity of Clark and Madison County on a home located on Hill Street in Richmond.
“It’s a huge help and it helps keep the job going,” said Jonathan Taylor, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity. “They addressed the walls and the foundation. It keeps our builds on schedule.”
Site supervisor for Habitat Marty Capo agreed.
“They’re willing to do anything,” he said. “To have a group that size was a huge asset.”
Bike and Build volunteer Marissa Zhao enjoyed her visit to Madison County, especially the hospitality.
“The people (in Berea) gave us the best they had,” she said. “The (bike and build) mission is great (and) just by knowing by the end of the summer the impact we had by building and helping people.”
Like many of her peers, Zhao heard about the organization through a friend and decided to put her foot to the pedal and travel the country for a cause this summer.
“Most people hear about us by word of mouth, because it is such a life-changing experience,” Duggan said. “People go back home and talk about it with their friends and family non-stop. That’s how I heard about it.”
Nearly a month into the journey, Duggan has enjoyed the scenery.
“We have really enjoyed western Virginia and eastern Kentucky,” he said. “It’s been tough with some tough hills for us and we really enjoyed that landscape. We’re be hitting the Midwest, riding through the plains of Kansas and then the Rocky Mountains, through Colorado and Wyoming and Montana. We’ll be seeing it all and what America has to offer.”