New checkups for retired dentist

Retired dentist Tom Mayhew putting on a bike tire. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- Riding a bike may be a fun hobby for some. But for others it’s their main form of transportation.

And keeping bikes rolling down the road is the mission for a Green Bay non-profit organization called Spokes of Hope.

It all started three years ago as a way of helping those who rely on bikes to get to and from work. And for one volunteer mechanic, it’s another way to keep his hands busy in retirement.

Tom Mayhew is used to working with delicate equipment in tight spaces. But these days it’s more about tires than teeth.

The retired dentist has been spending his Monday evenings as the main mechanic with Spokes of Hope, after the organization’s co-founder recruited him in 2015.

"He was talking about bikes and the program and I said, 'I love bikes, I love working on bikes.’ And he goes, ‘You’re in.’ So I got drafted," says Mayhew.

For six months out of the year, a garage at 615 Saint George St. in Green Bay serves as a repair shop. On Monday nights, from 6 to 8 p.m., people can ride, walk, or carry their bikes in and get everything from a flat fixed to a chain changed. And it’s almost always same-day service. But that’s not the best part.

"A lot of times they can’t believe the service is for free," says Spokes of Hope Program Coordinator Paula Rieder.

"More than often we run into people that this is all they have," says Rieder. "So they tell us the story, ‘I walked 8 blocks to get there because my bike broke down.’”

In addition to grants, the organization continues to operate thanks to members of the community who chip in both tools and time.

Many people also want to donate bikes. But the current facility is only really big enough for repairs, so they’re hoping for help with that as well.

Spokes of Hope also gives out free bikes on occasion.

For Mayhew, his satisfaction comes from helping people pedal, to earn a paycheck.

“They can put their bike on the bus, and make it that last mile beyond the bus line to work. That's letting them rebuild their life and give them some stability and give them some income, so it’s those little heartwarming things,” says Mayhew.

And for a retired dentist it’s a chance to to sink his teeth into his work instead of the other way around.

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