Written by Ashley Dunbar, proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation team at Winbourne Elementary School.
Every Tuesday afternoon, corps members from Winbourne Elementary venture to Front Yard Bike Shop to help give back to the community we serve. The shop, which brings community children together, is owned and run by City Year Baton Rouge alumnus, Dustin LaFont. LaFont, who served his 2010-2011 AmeriCorps year at Glen Oaks Park Elementary, started the bike shop in hopes of challenging the neighborhood youth to greatness.
Front Yard Bikes isn’t your normal bike shop. It is a community bike shop that focuses on teaching it’s customers, who are mostly all school-aged youth, how to fix and maintain bicycles. The idea of the shop came about before LaFont served with City Year. While working at Community Roots Garden, a young boy approached him and asked for his help with repairing his bike. The bike was beyond repair, but luckily, Dustin’s roommate left behind an old one. He made a deal with the boy that if they worked together on it, he could keep it. From that day forward, underprivileged youth have been showing up at his shop to earn their very own set of wheels.
One of Dustin’s dreams for the shop is to see all of his children earn their high school diplomas, then continue to reach their highest potential. Part of making that happen requires tutors volunteering their time, and that is where City Year plays a role in the shop. Winbourne corps members visit weekly to tutor and provide homework assistance to each child, which must be completed before they are allowed to start working on their bikes.
Serving with City Year has instilled Dustin with plenty of culture that he still applies to his everyday work. Community, team building, and inclusivity are all values that he continues to carry with him long after his year of service.
To learn more about Front Yard Bikes, please visit http://www.frontyardbikes.com/