Batavia, NY- When Florence Colton saw a group of Genesee Community College students walking past her Bank Street home with a broken bicycle, she decided to give them a hand…or rather some wheels. Colton, who will be 70 on June 29, 2015, had two of her late son David’s bicycles in her barn. The students helped her retrieve them and were delighted that Colton offered the bikes to them. GCC welcomes donations of working bicycles to help students get back and forth from campus to destinations in town for groceries, haircuts, clothing or recreation.
A recent forum between GCC students and Batavia area merchants revealed that one big hurdle preventing students from patronizing businesses in town is transportation. Downtown Batavia is about three miles from College Village, the residential community at GCC. Merchants on Veterans Memorial Drive are five miles away. Bus service is limited and walking is time-consuming.
“We have a collection of bikes that students can use and we even provide bike helmets purchased from Adam Miller’s,” said College Village Director John Sisson. “But because the bikes are generally reused from previous College Village student residents, some are not in the greatest condition. We’d welcome the donation of new bicycles or reused bikes in good working order. Our students definitely put them to use.”
GCC houses more than 400 students at College Village. A number of them come from other countries, including Japan, France and Timor Leste. Students from these countries encountered Colton on a spring day. “These kids were so nice and so polite,” Colton recalled. “They commented on how nice my yard is.” Their predicament with the broken bike prompted Colton to offer the bikes that belonged to her son, David, who had passed away in December 2014. “They were good solid bikes. I really didn’t have any use for them and I knew David would like for somebody to have the bikes,” Colton said. “And they [the students] were so happy and it just touched my heart that those were my son’s bikes and these kids really appreciated these bikes.”
The students posted photographs with Colton in social media under the hashtags #GreatDay and #CoolPeople. “We were so happy to receive these bicycles,” said Arsenio Ferreira, a student from Timor Leste. “We have been using them a lot.”
The students continue a relationship with Colton, often stopping to say hi when they pass her home. Some have even offered to help her with the yardwork. “I’m so independent,” she said. “But I may take them up on it in the fall when it’s time to rake leaves.”
For Colton, the best part has been seeing her son’s life touch others. “It made me feel so good that David, through his mom, helped out these college kids,” she said. “I just felt so blessed that they were such good kids and they could really use those bikes.”
If anyone has bikes they’d like to donate to College Village, please contact John Sisson at (585) 343-0163 or JTSisson@genesee.edu. College Village will accept bikes in good, working condition, but any bikes or bike parts received that are not in working condition will be donated to Trailside Bicycles located at 16271 Canal Rd., Hulberton, NY in Orleans County, www.trailsidebicycles.com. Owner, Chris VanDusen hopes to one day help develop a program similar to R Community Bikes Inc., a nonprofit organization in Rochester that collects and repairs used bicycles for distribution to needy families in the Rochester area. (Go to http://rcommunitybikes.net/ for further information).
For more information, contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.