Happy holidays everyone. On Saturday, December 14, San Jose Bike Party hosted an event that helped raise critical holiday foodstuffs for needy San Jose families. The event pushed by Bike Party superbird SJRides (aka Andrew) was a great success raising over $1,200 on short notice.
Here at Bike Party Central we are always amazed at the incredible stories of transformation that ride participants have told us. Given that this is a time of reflection, new beginnings, and resolutions to improve our lives ,we thought we would share this story told by an amazing young woman. We are humbled by how committed Isabel is to giving back to her hometown and helping those who are truly in need. Here is Izzy’s story.
My name is Isabel Antonette Quinonez. I’m 29 years old and an artist. I was born in San Jose California to Salvadorian parents that came to the United States fleeing the civil war there. Growing up as a first generation American was extremely difficult in all kinds of ways. My mom and I struggled for years moving constantly in efforts to find an affordable and stable place to live and have food to eat. We endured years of poverty and instability and we have come a long way since then. I believe this experience molded me and gave me an extreme sense of duty when it comes to helping the less fortunate because I know first hand what it’s like to be hungry, afraid and in need. My mother and I have used Sacred Heart’s Services in the past and would not have had Thanksgiving or Christmas several times if it wasn’t for them.
I started riding with San Jose Bike Party about 3 1/2 years ago and it has completely transformed my life. Not only am I such healthier person now but I feel more aware and informed of what’s going on in my community and the people that I began riding with have now become family. I never imagined attending a fun group ride would become a way of life. Attending San Jose Bike Party allows me to do a fun activity with fellow San Jose residents and its a great way to make new friends and meet people I wouldn’t otherwise run into.
I feel a lot of the time we either aren’t informed about what others are going through, or if we are perhaps we would like to help but don’t know how or where to start. SJBP has given me the opportunity to come together with my friends and take action on the things we believe we can help with.
I met Moya Poparad at SJBP and we share several mutual friends. Karen Espicia I met for the first time the day of Mash for Potatoes and we became friends right then and there. Moya had asked her to be a part of our team, Chicks for Chow.
I initially heard of Mash for Potatoes through a Facebook post from SJ Rides who organized the event. All of the planning and communication for Chicks for Chow was done using Facebook. Moya posted and asked if anyone wanted to be her partner. I messaged her and told her that I’d love to team up but was low on funds to buy food. She then suggested we collect donations from others that want to help. Which was brilliant. I told her about GoFundMe.com a free online fundraising website and posted a link. Moya then set up the charity and the donations started pouring in amounting to $300 total which we were pleasantly surprised with.
The day of Mash for Potatoes we took careful steps to plan out what we were shopping for and how we would spend the money. We figured we had four grocery stores to go to in the route and $300 to work with. So we spent around $ 75.00 at each market.We also did this by trying to put ourselves in the position of others that may be homeless and need to bring everything with them at all times. We chose quick ready to eat meals that were light weight and convenient to carry. Which was really funny and ironic being that we were competing in the cargo contest for the heaviest load. We weren’t concerned with winning though. We really wanted to make sure we were choosing nutritional meals for people and that they would have some good food to eat for the Holidays like we would for ourselves. After the event was finished the event participants met at the Denny’s parking lot on Alma and First St. Jarek Acevedo took our pictures and we then delivered the food to Sacred Heart. We didn’t stick around because we honestly thought we had no chance winning against Joe Tate’s extra large crate that more resembled a truck bed. We had no idea we won and each of us was shocked to later learn that Chicks for Chow came in first place. We collected our prizes at the next Bike Party which was the Ugly Sweater ride because what better way to get everyone together.
I had a great time Mashing for Potatoes. I got to do something for the less fortunate with my friends and it felt really really good. There is nothing more rewarding to me to know that I’m not just watching people suffer and doing nothing about it, I’m doing something to help. Even if it’s just a little bit. We’re taking initiative and going out there on our bikes and trying our hardest to make a difference. We’re coming together and brainstorming on new innovative ways of helping our community while making it fun for ourselves as well. I would definitely do Mash for Potatoes again. It was a memorable experience. It was my first time and not my last and it makes me happy to know I’m part of this beautiful bike community.
Thanks Izzy. Do you have an inspirational story of transformation? How has San Jose Bike Party helped you connect with your city? Let’s us know. We would love to hear your story and maybe even publish it here on our site and on Facebook. Write us at sjbikeparty at gmail dOt CoM.