Many times in life things start out of necessity. Chippewa Falls native Mike Van Dusseldorf began fixing bicycles in his garage because of just that.
“My wife and I had some bikes that we rode, and little things would break on the way,” Dusseldorf said. “So, I’d start carrying tools and stuff and tweaking on them. And it was just kind of something that I enjoyed.”
Mike decided to use his newfound passion for fixing bicycles to give back to his local community. More specifically, to people around the area who are experiencing homelessness or lacking reliable transportation.
“There are so many people that are homeless that I’ve kind of always had a passion for helping,” Dusseldorf said. “I’ve done it pretty much my whole life. And I realized that there were a lot of people that needed bikes.”
Mike has fixed up and donated close to 500 bicycles to people needing a ride. It’s all done through a project he calls New Life Recyclery.
“It’s not so much about just helping people, but it kind of helps you too,” Dusseldorf said. “In a way, it gives you that sense of belonging and that sense of, I matter.”
All the bicycles and parts Mike uses are donated either by himself or by members of the community, with the work being done out of his garage. It’s been a learning experience for Mike.
“Half of what I’m doing now, I had to learn myself and I had no clue as to what I was doing,” Dusseldorf said. “I had people that would donate tools or something. I didn’t even know what they were. So, I’d have to look it up and find out what is this for.”
Mike’s giving has expanded, adding non-perishable food items to the list. All are supplied through donations either from the community or himself. It’s a chance to further help people find a better path in life.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. If you want to keep your balance, you must keep moving,” said Dusseldorf. “And I think that’s the biggest thing is just don’t give up and give people hope, keep them moving.”