A Lorain bike shop offers much more than bikes for neighborhood youth and the general public.
The Lorain County Community Action Agency’s Bike Shop is located in the Ronald Nabakowski Youth Center at 204 W. 10th St. Opens after the school day ends for local students.
After all, the cozy boutique is student-run under the new leadership of Jeffrey A. Ross Jr., Youth Services Coordinator for LCCAA.
Ross, a former Catholic teacher from Elyria, is very happy with his new position, he said.
Unlike his old job as a teacher, Ross welcomes the opportunity to mentor students at the bike shop, he said.
“It’s been amazing since I started,” Ross said. Students open up to Ross, he says.
“I noticed I had a knack,” Ross said of mentoring young people who may not be comfortable talking about some of the challenges they face in their daily lives.
Ross signed just over a month ago, he added.
Upon entering the LCCAA bike shop, two high school students, filling out lists of “greeters”, greet customers in the store.
Currently, Angie Ortiz-Santiago, an 11th grader studying cosmetology at the Joint Vocational School through the Clearview School District, and Mea Nieter, an 11th grader at Lorain High School, fill the host lists, they said.
Angie and Mea are also responsible for creating sales tags and managing inventory documents and other tasks, the girls said.
The job was difficult at first, but once Angie got the hang of it, she enjoyed her duties, she said.
“It’s really good here and it’s a lot of fun,” said Angie.
“I really like it here… We’ve made some really good friends here,” Mea added.
Behind the scenes, the students divide into pairs or more and tackle repairs to the bikes that are sometimes donated to the agency.
For example, on October 6, Ross was helping a student fix a bike on a stand while two other teams of students were working on two other bikes.
The shop began in 2019 as part of the LCCAA and provided local students across the county with the opportunity to learn valuable work-related skills.
“The Lorain County Community Action Agency’s mission is to serve and empower Lorain County residents in need,” according to its website.
The “LCCAA was established in 1966 as a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the continuous improvement and betterment of local communities. This became part of the national policy known as The War on poverty,” the website also said.
“Since the inception of the LCCAA, we have acted as a provider of a wide range of public and private resources, programs and policies that empower individuals to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and of their communities. We strive to help others seek self-sufficiency through the pursuit of values, expectations, and the development of responsibility,” the website states.
While shop organizers search through the roster of working students, students who meet certain poverty line requirements are usually chosen first, Ross said.
The jobs are offered by the state agency, Ohio Means Jobs.
People between the ages of 16 and 24 are eligible to work at the bike shop, Ross added.
Donations are always welcome at the bike shop, whether it’s bike parts or bikes, Ross said.
Store hours vary but are currently 3-5pm weekdays.
To learn more, visit the LCCAA website.