Some of Tucson's newest residents now can pedal to work, the grocery store and school thanks to two University of Arizona student groups that collected donated bicycles and gear to political refugees.
At the Saturday event in Reid Park, Eller College of Management students gave 25 bicycles, plus helmets, locks and lights to men recently resettled in Tucson by the International Rescue Committee. The students are involved in the Arizona Resource Connection, a UA student group dedicated to helping refugees, and Enactus, a global, nonprofit student group with an entrepreneurial focus.
Along with their new bikes, recipients also got a lesson in road rules from an Arizona Department of Transportation representative, Eller student Remmington Glorioso, said.
"The biggest problem for them is getting to work and school, and we are providing transport," Matthew Konen, project manager and president-elect of Arizona Resource Connection, said.
Many of the refugees find jobs at local hotels, working night shifts when buses aren't running, or in areas of Tucson that don't have public transportation service, said Christy Danahey, a case manager at the local International Rescue Committee office. The bicycles will give them mobility, independence and a way to get to know their new community.
The project benefited the students as well as the refugees, said Cindi Gilliland, faculty adviser for Arizona Resource Connection.
"We have a dual mission. We want to create business leaders with open hearts and open minds, as well as make a difference in our community," Gilliland said. "A lot of my former students tell me ARC is what got them their job" because of the real-world experience it provides and the leadership skills instilled in project managers and team members.
"It's not always about money," student Erik Perez said. "To be able to give back to people ... it's really nice to see how much they appreciate it. It's something I didn't picture myself doing, and now it's something I can't imagine not doing."
"It's not always about money. To be able to give back to people ... it's really nice to see how much they appreciate it."
Erik Perez, student
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