Why ICycle: OA’s Jennie Hardin
A typical day for me often starts with a spin class. So today, like many others for me, started with a spin class. But this wasn’t a typical day and this certainly wasn’t my typical spin class.
Rather than walking to my gym down the street, I packed my bag and headed downtown to One International Place to hop on a spin bike – outdoors – and participate in HomeStart’s 9th Annual ICycle event.
I was merely one rider among the 320 participants and 25 teams that took time out of their day to brace the elements, in an attempt to begin to understand what it could be like to live without a home in New England’s unpredictable winter weather. Many commuters with bewildered looks passed by as I was spinning, some stopping to offer a cheer of encouragement and others even donating a few dollars to support the cause. From the blasting music and the energetic riders to the camera crews and the large dancing sports mascots, ICycle is certainly a sight to behold and one that is hard to overlook.
However, as I was spinning, I was reminded of how often homeless men and women on the streets are overlooked and how many commuters do not typically stop to offer a word of encouragement or some spare change to those in need. I’m guilty of it too; after a long day at work, sometimes all I want to do is return to my warm, welcoming apartment to relax. In my haste, I rush by the man on the street who’s sat outside all day and who doesn’t have that warm, welcoming apartment to return home to like I do. Sometimes, I don’t even think to offer a simple greeting or see if I have a few dollars to spare.
Now that I’ve stepped off the bike, caught my breath and gone about my typical day, my hope is that for every person who participated in, or supported, ICycle in some way, those same people – myself included – will offer a gesture of support to one of the thousands of homeless people who often go unnoticed.
This is why ICycle – to remind myself and others that it’s the men and women who are often overlooked and who do not have a roof over their heads who need our support and encouragement more than anyone. ICycle because one hour outside in the New England winter is nothing compared to what many people endure day in and day out. ICycle because there are too many people living in homelessness and it’s past time that we work together, as a community, to find permanent solutions.
HomeStart is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end and prevent homelessness in Greater Boston by assisting individuals in obtaining permanent housing and settling into the community, and by developing strategies to address systemic barriers to housing placement. For more information, visit www.homestart.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.