I’ll be completely honest. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden my bike more than about 2 miles (pre-training for B&B of course!). I have a great bike though. Her name is Henrietta and she’s beautiful: a 1970s, robin’s egg blue Schwinn Varsity that my mom found at a yard sale a few years ago. While Henrietta probably won’t accompany me across the country, we’ve had some great rides to and from the grocery store, to class, and around town with my three roommates recreating scenes from Now and Then.
I’m Mary Kate Long, a 21 year old student from Harrisville, New Hampshire. Currently, I am a senior at Smith College in Northampton, MA. In school I study religion and Spanish, and I’ve spent almost four years learning a lot about the world outside of my own country. Now I think it’s time to get to know the good ol’ USA, and what better way than to bike across it—meeting people and seeing different regions, states, towns and communities with my own eyes.
I heard about Bike & Build from two past participants. As soon as I started learning more about it’s goals and accomplishments, I knew I had to be a part of it. Combining long-distance biking with affordable housing projects seems like the perfect way to stay connected to local communities throughout a cross-country trip. The physical challenge of the trip is also exciting! I am a field hockey player and a hiker, and I usually don’t enjoy what I’m doing unless I’m outside and moving (unless it’s a nap in the sun, of course). As an athlete I know what it’s like to commit to a team, work hard, accomplish goals, and support my peers. I have great energy and enthusiasm that I can’t wait to share with new friends and new communities. Being a student-athlete has also instilled in me a great work ethic that I bring to any team or project I am a part of.
I will also dedicate my trip to the memory of John Kidder, a dear friend who passed away in October. Upon his own graduation from college, John biked from Boston to Utah. Throughout his life he was devoted to the well-being of his family and community, and was a true role model for social responsibility. His ability to design and build homes for the people he loved inspires me to join in the effort to bring homes to deserving families across the country.
While I don’t have much experience working with affordable housing groups in the United States, I worked on several construction projects during volunteer trips in Peru and Ecuador. Realizing the impact that the organization I travelled with had on these communities internationally was a valuable experience that now inspires me to bring the same energy I had abroad back to my own country. If third world countries benefit greatly from volunteers that work directly with local communities, there is an even greater impact when an entire nation can come together, coast to coast, to produce change. I have seen this impact through the work of my older sister, who, as an Americorps NCCC member spent four months working with Habitat for Humanity in the New Orleans 9th ward. Seeing her work, her commitment to the families she worked with and the affordable housing cause, and even meeting one of her co-workers who was also a past participant of Bike & Build, really stuck with me. I'm psyched to be a part of this cause!
What else… I love taking pictures. My favorite room in a house is the kitchen. I like rocking chairs on front porches. I play the tenor saxophone. I enjoy climbing rocks and mountains. When I grow up I want to run a hostel. I drink coffee. I love cooking with my family. I like to read and write. Blueberries are where it’s at.
See you on the road!
|Mary Kate has currently raised $4,169.|
That's 104% of her $4,000 fundraising goal.