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Training Skills Through Training Wheels

July 13, 2018

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

GIG HARBOR – For 15 years, unwanted bicycles have found a new home thanks to the ladies at Washington Corrections Center for Women. When the program’s founder left in 2017, Corrections Officer Charlotte Wieman stepped up and took over supervising the group. While working with the incarcerated women, she has seen positive strides made through participation in the program.

Bikes are donated from members of the community, facility staff members, and even businesses like REI. If a bike is beyond repair, it’s scrapped for parts. Bikes are sanded, painted, given new tires and brakes, and stored until they are donated to children in need. It takes only a day or two to complete a bike, depending on how much work needs to be completed.

With the original support of the Kiwanis Club of Port Orchard, the club started with five inmates and provided around 20 bikes per month to the club. The current group of three inmates is able to fix around 250 bikes a year. They still need help getting bicycles and spare parts. Having interaction with community groups helps the department in its mission to improve public safety.

Since the beginning of the program, bicycles have been sent to the state’s various correctional facilities, back to school events, Hurricane Katrina victims, and even an orphanage in Romania. Bikes are mostly supplied to children, however, recently they have been donated to the agency’s work release facilities as alternative transportation for those getting back on their feet.