By Corrie Pelc
It all started when Michael Madsen, owner of The Coffee Garden in Curtis Park, was talking to his customers – one about bike rides and another about a local nonprofit that needed some help.
The result? The first-ever Mike’s Light Ride – a fundraiser and bicycle cruise through Curtis Park to enjoy holiday lights in the community – to take place on Saturday, December 22.
Madsen says the idea for the bike ride initially came from a conversation he had with a customer about community bike rides that had occurred in Sacramento in the past. They thought The Coffee Garden would be a good location for people to meet up for a bike ride.
Mike’s Light Ride will begin with a party at The Coffee Garden starting at 2pm, where attendees can mingle with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and Snoopy. Additionally, Madsen invited the Sacramento SPCA to talk about animals available for adoption.
Then starting at 6pm, the bike ride will begin. Madsen plans to take riders on a route through some of the best holiday lights in the area, plus there will be a few stops for hot chocolate or hot apple cider along the way.
And to add to the holiday fun, riders are invited to come dressed in their holiday best and decorate their bikes for the chance to win prizes. “We’re having contests for the bike with the most lights, best kid’s bike, best costume or best holiday wear, and then best bike and holiday wear overall,” Madsen adds.
Although Mike’s Light Ride is all about holiday fun, it’s also a way of giving back.
From another customer, Madsen found out the staff of a local nonprofit, Waking the Village, held their weekly staff meetings at his coffee shop. And then he also found out they had recently lost part of their funding for their program Tubman House and decided to do something to help. “They do a lot of good work, so we decided to give whatever we get to (at Mike’s Light Ride) to them,” he says.
According to Bridget Alexander, executive director of Waking the Village, Tubman House is a transitional community where young parents between the ages of 18 to 21 that are currently homeless live with their children for 18 months as they work towards independence.
“We’re ensuring this is going to be their last experience with homelessness (by) tackling anything that might prove a barrier to that ability,” Alexander says, such as helping them finish high school and start college or career training, as well as receive counseling or parenting help them might need.
“They are working towards having a support network that’s going to sustain them, but also putting in place things and identifying the environment that’s going to allow them to maintain momentum after they (leave),” she adds.
As of October, Alexander says they lost about 60 percent of their funding after a federal government program was ended, leaving them “scrambling to raise money in challenging times.” “We’re going to lose 18 beds if we can’t close the gap, and of our six people staff we’ve laid off two staff positions,” she adds. “We’re really hoping to get back to full staff again as our programs operate much better with all the people we need on board.”
Madsen said because they intend on collecting more gifts than the Tubman House could use this Christmas, two other nonprofits have been selected to benefit from Mike’s Light Ride: Wellspring Women’s Center and the Praise of Worship Church of God, which is near Coffee Garden and has a list of 14 children in need of gifts.
To help out Tubman House, Madsen is asking attendees for donations of money, toys and food.
Alexander says diapers are a huge need for Tubman House, as they go through about 1,000 a month. And food is always needed as they have about 20 people living in their program at one time.
Overall, Alexander is “delighted” Madsen selected Tubman House to be the beneficiary of Mike’s Light Ride, especially at a time when they could use the community’s help to make their families’ holidays a bit brighter.
“Any event like this is a key reminder that we’re all responsible for one another, be it our neighbors, be it the poorest among us,” Alexander says. “And that at this time most of all it’s so important that we’re reminding ourselves of that and doing the work of making sure that we are an authentic community where all of us are honored and have our needs met, especially for children.”
And Madsen hopes Mike’s Light Ride will be a great way to bring family and friends together for a fun evening to do something good for Tubman House. “That I can turn around and help them is awesome, and having the community help them also is awesome,” he adds.
Mike’s Light Ride will take place Saturday, December 22, at The Coffee Garden, 2904 Franklin Blvd., in Sacramento. Party starts at 2pm, bike ride starts at 6pm. For more information, call 916-457-5507 or visit thecoffeegarden.com.
For more information on Waking the Village and Tubman House, visit wakingthevillage.org.