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Spencer Veatch collects 25 bikes over a five-month period for a Love INC program

COURTESY PHOTO: CORINNE WATERBURY - Boy Scout Spencer Veatch loads one of the 25 bicycles he collected over the course of five months to a volunteer at the Retired Recyclers headquarters in Newberg.

Love INC's bike ministry program has proven so popular, and so efficient, that it had nearly put itself out of business. When a local Boy Scout learned of the nonprofit's calamity, he swiftly took action and in the process discovered an Eagle Scout service project to boot.

The nonprofit Love INC (In the Name of Christ) acts as a clearinghouse of sorts in conjunction with local churches and provides, according to a release, "life-changing services and materials to people in its programs, such as those in recovery, jobless, homeless and other people in need."

Included in that ministry is a program where Love INC distributes bicycles to folks who request them. Last year the program distributed 77 of the wheeled contraptions in conjunction with the Retired Recyclers, a group of mostly retired former mill workers who restore the bikes back to working order.COURTESY PHOTO: CORINNE WATERBURY - Spencer Veatch is poised to become an Eagle Scout, the highest designation in scouting.

But this year the Retired Recyclers found themselves with no bicycles to restore.

"A bunch of us guys are in our 80s," said Jim Kolbet, one of the group's volunteers. "We didn't have any bikes or a way to collect them."

In stepped Spencer Veatch, a Newberg Boy Scout wanting to help and looking for an Eagle Scout project. Over the course of five months, Veatch set up donation points in Newberg and Sherwood and then organized the collection, storage and delivery of 25 bikes to First Presbyterian Church of Newberg, who hosts the bike ministry and is one of Love INC's partners. The bicycles were then delivered to the Retired Recyclers' workshop at the Newberg church.

"This project saved us," Kolbet said. "Spencer is a great kid."

Once the bicycles were repaired, they were ready for delivery, and "all they have to do is sign for the bike when they've chosen one," said Corinne Waterbury, an elder at the church.

Love INC was grateful for Veatch's help.

"We had the need, we had the people to repair the bikes, but we didn't have any bicycles," director Yvette Heryford said. "Without Spencer organizing this project it wouldn't have happened."

Undoubtedly, the folks that inherited the bikes are grateful too as few of them can afford a car and "walking is a slow way to get anywhere — seeking a job, getting to a job or just every day getting around," said Elise Prayzich, head of the bike ministry.

Successful completion of the project means that Veatch is one step closer to earning Eagle Scout designation. To do so a Boy Scout must progress through the ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle, earn at least 21 merit badges, complete a service project, a Scoutmaster conference and undergo a board of review prior to their 18th birthday.

"The road to Eagle Scout is long, it requires dedication, but it's worth it," Veatch said.

Love INC's bicycle program is always looking for donations to continue its ministry in the community.

"People are pleased to know their old bike is going to a special place," Prayzich said.

Love INC and the "Retired Recyclers" always need used bikes. The "Recyclers" will even do pickup if you have a bike/s you'd like to donate. "People are pleased to know their old bike is going to a special place," Prayzich said.

For more information on the program or to donate a bicycle (the Retired Recyclers can pick it up), call Prayzich at 503-487-6099 or 307-690-3762 or contact the church office at 503-538-3313.

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