Teen Services Sonoma is celebrating the grand opening of its Operation Bicycle shop in Vailetti Plaza – 207 Nino Marco Square on Highway 12 – Sunday, Feb. 10 from noon to 2 p.m.
The celebration, sponsored by Rabobank, includes a ribbon-cutting with local dignitaries at 12:45 p.m., treats provided by the Lovin’ Oven, gift bags while supplies last, and the opportunity to see the new shop and chat with teen mechanics.
Operation Bicycle was formed in 2012 when bike enthusiast and educator Adrian Palenchar started volunteering with Teen Services. He and fellow volunteer, Chuck Palenchar, transformed the Teen Service’s basement into a bicycle repair hub. Two years later, Teen Services raised enough money to hire Palenchar and now employs several teens regularly as the shop expanded its hours and reach and has now relocated to its new site.
Operation Bicycle has become a favorite community bike shop providing maintenance and repair services for the general public, but it is much more. It also offers work-based learning experiences for Sonoma Valley teens and young adults as part of Teen Service’s Ready to Work program. Teen Services staff and volunteers work with teens to repair, service and modify used bikes for sale.
Teens employed at Operation Bicycle first complete 10 hours of Work Readiness training focusing on workplace etiquette and culture, time management, customer service, communication, and the tools needed to get a job: resume writing, references, applications, and interviewing. With a certificate in hand, program graduates are qualified for work experience at Operation Bicycle, the Lovin’ Oven (Teen Services’ food-service enterprise), or a local employer.
Recognizing the importance of bicycles for the homeless, Operation Bicycle donates 12 to 15 bikes each year and monthly mobile repair service, bringing the necessary tools, parts, and expertise to clients of local homeless nonprofit Sonoma Overnight Support to keep their bikes in good working order.
Also, Operation Bicycle offers a monthly Earn-a-Bike/Bike Mechanics Certification class in which teen mechanics learn by refurbishing a donated bike that they can then call their own. Operation Bicycle also partners with the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition and the City of Sonoma to provide bicycle valet and repair service every Tuesday at the Sonoma Farmers Market.