Pocatello nonprofit aims to reduce recidivism two wheels at a time - East Idaho News

Pocatello nonprofit aims to reduce recidivism two wheels at a time

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POCATELLO — Richard Roberts has been in addiction recovery for nearly a decade. After a recent relapse, he decided to throw himself all the way into work he began about seven years ago.

Through his nonprofit organization, Bicycles For Recovery, Roberts and his partners, Jaxson Hall and Greg Johnson, accept donated bikes, fix, repair or rebuild them, and give them to those in need.

It all started, Roberts explained, when his drug use led to him losing his driver’s license. That was when he discovered how important it was for everyone, but especially addicts, to have a set of wheels.

“I lost my license, because of my (drug) use and stuff, and I didn’t have wheels,” he said. “I gave up, I threw in the towel. I found out right then that it is very important to have transportation. … This will help with recidivism, it will help the community to grow with functioning people that are able to work — it will get wheels under them so they are more motivated to go do something. It’s really a good program.”

After his stay at the Center for Hope — a rehab and recovery center in Pocatello — Roberts began his work, as part of the recovery process. But he didn’t get fully invested in that work until a recent relapse.

“This year, I got back into my recovery strong and I decided that I’m gonna go full-bore with it,” he said.

Hall, who partnered with Roberts this year, is also in recovery and a longtime friend of Roberts’. He told EastIdahoNews.com that doing this work and helping others helps him with his own process.

Roberts called it a “win-win.”

In a short few months, Roberts has developed working partnerships with Barrie’s Ski and Sports, East Fork Bikes and Fantasy Forgery. The companies donate bikes, parts and, in some cases, mechanical know-how when it comes to rebuilding and repairing bicycles.

Roberts explained it has been difficult as he looks to expand the organization’s efforts.

He is looking into getting a wing Bicycles for Recovery running in the Idaho Falls area, but is still searching for someone who meets the qualifications he requires — being sober and knowledgeable of bikes and their repair needs.

Of his own know-how, Roberts said he grew up track racing bikes, and doing his repairs himself. As a young man, he added, he would repair bikes for his neighbors, free of charge, out of his love for biking.

“I’ve always been into bicycles, been a bicycle enthusiast,” he said.

While he doesn’t expect to pass along that same level of love, he knows how impactful a working bike can be.

That impact, he continued, goes well beyond those in recovery.

He recently received information from the community that a woman’s bike, and primary means of transportation, was stolen. Roberts said she asked if he could help her and after very little consideration, she agreed.

“This is kind of drawn up for people that are in recovery, but I can make an exception to that rule because she’s trying to help herself,” he said of the woman’s situation. “So now, it’s pretty much to that point — if somebody’s trying to get ahead in life, and do better for themself, then we’re willing to help.”

That willingness to help his neighbor has helped him, and not just in the partnerships he has already created.

Roberts said that Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad heard about his organization and offered to help. Now, Bicycles for Recovery is working on a partnership that would see them taking in retired bikes from the Pocatello Police Department for repair and donation.

He also received a free spot at the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market this week to spread the word about his work.

Ellen Loomis, the manager of the Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market, told EastIdahoNews.com that it was an easy decision for her to invite Roberts.

“I believe, our community owes it to each other to care for people that need a little boost,” she said.

To learn more about donating or receiving a bike from Roberts’ organization, visit his public Facebook group — here.

Roberts, who has a full-time job and is constantly working toward his own recovery, is pleased with his decision to throw himself into the necessary work. He said he decided after his recent relapse to make “life-changing choices” and live his “best life.”

“It’s good for my recovery, it’s good for my soul. I love it.”