Bikes for Bakersfield's Homeless





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Published on Jan 25, 2012

A Bakersfield man is taking time to help the homeless. Not with food or clothing, but two-wheeled transportation.

Arlo Thompson works as a building inspector at Memorial Hospital, but when he clocks out at the end of the day that's when he really gets to work.

"I rode ten miles to work, ten miles back for about 20 years so I got to know how to work on bicycles fairly well," said Thompson.

With no shop and no roof over his head, Thompson can be found at the Bakersfield Rescue Mission once a week fixing bicycles for the homeless.

"Mostly flat tires, some gears and some brakes and what not," he said.

He tightens gears and patches tubes.

"I love bikes," said Thompson.

And, the homeless love him.

"Time is precious and that's what Arlo is doing here is giving his time. And, there's a lot of people you can't find like Arlo, you know what I mean," said Thomas Psillas, a resident at the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

Thompson gives the homeless and less fortunate more than transportation. He gives them a chance at a better life.

"All of my trips to Career Services (Center) and my trip to Sears were done on that bike," said another resident Joseph Onipogui.

Onipogui owned a successful business in Huntington Beach. He lost it during the recession and came to Bakersfield to start over.

"I moved here just to run away from my friends. When I got here it was really the Mission that lifted me up. Food, shelter, lodging and that bike. I got that bike from the Mission too," said Onipogui.

For Onipogui, the only way to get back on his feet was to get on a bike.

"Actually it did help me land an interview with Sears," he said.

It's just one day a week. But, without Thompson the homeless are just spinning their wheels.

Thompson hopes to build a workshop at the Rescue Mission so he can do even more for the homeless.


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