Juan Luna (left) and Jeff Austin tune up bicycles Tuesday at Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop to be donated to child refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Juan Luna (left) and Jeff Austin tune up bicycles Tuesday at Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop to be donated to child refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Afghanistan, Ukraine refugees get bikes, bus passes and rides

One nonprofit needs volunteers to repair 40 kids bikes for refugees. Another agency could use cash gift cards.

Refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan and Ukraine arrive in Snohomish County with what they can carry.

That means they don’t have a set of wheels, or a driver’s license.

But they have to get around like everyone else.

“When they left the country, they brought whatever they could carry on their back. That’s what they have,” Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest executive director Van Dinh-Kuno said. “When they arrive to our county, they all need transportation.”

It can take two to three months for a newly arrived refugee proficient in English to get a driver’s license, Dinh-Kuno said. For those who don’t speak English well, it can take a year.

Plus they need time to get a job and save money to buy a vehicle.

Dinh-Kuno’s staff take their clients to medical, social service and work appointments. But they also know supporting refugees’ autonomy through getting around on their own is important, she said.

Bicycles could be part of the answer, and some Snohomish County groups are fixing used bikes and giving them to the new residents.

Over 3,200 Afghan people resettled in the state since October 2021.

Other refugees are expected too. President Joe Biden announced plans for the United States to take in up to 100,000 people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was uncertain how many would relocate to the state, but more Ukranian refugees arrived in Washington than any other state over the past decade, according to The Seattle Times.

The Snohomish County Welcoming Center has helped between 550 and 600 Afghan refugees, said Alessandra Durham with the Snohomish County Executive’s Office.

So far around 100 people from Ukraine have connected with Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest, Dinh-Kuno said.

When the Afghan refugees first arrived, they were getting the basics: clothing, food, health checks, housing. But a couple of teen boys told Durham they’d like bikes. Then adults said they’d also like them.

The last time she saw a list for people who requested bikes and were measured for them, it had at least 75 names.

“It was a need that was not even on our radar,” Durham said. “Bikes are a critical piece in making their families work.”

Jeff Austin checks a tire Tuesday at Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop in Everett. The nonprofit is hosting weekly work parties to clean and repair used kids bikes for refugee families. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jeff Austin checks a tire Tuesday at Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop in Everett. The nonprofit is hosting weekly work parties to clean and repair used kids bikes for refugee families. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop has given bikes to a couple of groups supporting refugees in the area, including Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest and SCM Medical Missions.

The non-profit bike shop in Everett is hosting work parties to repair 40 children’s bikes. People can volunteer Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings through June 14. Tasks include cleaning bikes and parts, and replacing brakes and chains.

“We’ve got lots of kid bikes piled up that have generously been donated to us,” Sharing Wheels executive director Christy Cowley said. “Anyone can sign up, any level of experience.”

As they get repaired, they’ll go to the groups supporting refugees.

“There is a transporation need because there is a need to work, and to work very, very quickly,” SCM Medical Missions coordinator Pamela Van Swearingen said.

SCM Medical Missions assists refugees in the Puget Sound area and in the Middle East. Van Swearingen, an Edmonds resident, started volunteering there after the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan. Now she is the Renton center’s coordinator for its donations and supplies.

“There is a way and a place to help, and there is need,” Van Swearingen said.

Community Transit recently has given 108 ORCA transit cards to refugees through Volunteers of America of Western Washington, spokesperson Monica Spain said in an email.

It was done through a county program that encourages residents in congested areas to ride transit. Each card has enough for 60 days of unlimited rides in the ORCA network, which includes Community Transit, Everett Transit, Sound Transit, and the Washington State Ferry system.

The transit agency also worked with Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest to teach the new residents about the region’s transit network. After that, they can add money to the transit cards.

How to help

Donate cash-based gift cards to Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest at Everett Community College Rainier Building Room 228, 2000 Tower St.

Volunteer at Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop at 2531 Broadway. Sign up at https://sharingwheels.org/events or call 425-252-6952.

Have a question? Call 425-339-3037 or email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.