Habitat 500 Bike Ride Stops in Bemidji

More than one hundred volunteers are grabbing their work gloves, hammers, and bicycle helmets to take on one amazing challenge. As part of this year’s Habitat 500 Bike Ride, volunteers are raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity by biking 500 miles. The ride organized by Habitat for Humanity gives cyclists a chance to help provide affordable housing for families in need.

Riders make stops in several cities throughout Minnesota over a course of seven days, but they also spend time building affordable Habitat homes. This is the first year that Habitat for Humanity is sponsoring two homes in Bemidji. One is a new construction site, and the other is a Brush with Kindness project that improves an already existing home.

Homeowners are given a hand up, instead of a hand out. What Habitat for Humanity refers to as “sweat equity,” makes the homeowners able to afford their new energy-efficient homes. The partner families participate in the work that is done on their home so that they are really invested in it.

Volunteers say that the partner families are what make the 500 mile bike ride worth it. “It’s just wonderful to see families transformed by a new home,” said 17-year-volunteer Kathleen Splitt. And the families are just as grateful for the experience. Jennifer Norwick said, “My gratitude is never ending for everybody that’s helping.”

Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal biked from Menahga to Bemidji as part of this year’s Habitat 500 Ride. The commissioner also visited one of this year’s Bemidji bike homes along with Mayor Rita Albrecht.

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