Category Archives: Blog Posts

ReCycle Program Extends Chapter Impact

– Beth Smith and Ashley Schilling, Music City Trykes AMBUCS (Nashville, TN)
Beth Smith

What happens to an Amtryke when a child outgrows it? What about when a child has progressed to riding a typical two-wheel bicycle? Or when he or she is simply not riding it anymore?  As any chapter that participates in the Amtyrke program knows, these situations are inevitable. That’s why Music City Trykes, the Middle Tennessee Chapter of National AMBUCS, began “ReCycling.”

Our ReCycle Program is run by a subcommittee of Music City Trykes (MCT) members. The chair of the committee serves as a liaison between community therapists, families and the chapter. The committee helps coordinate volunteers to assist with Amtryke pickup, cleanup, preparation and fitting the next rider.

Upon receiving any Amtryke from MCT, families are provided info on the ReCycle Program, and every tryke receives a commercial grade sticker to remind families to contact MCT when they are done with it. When they are ready, families reach out to the chapter via email, phone, through their therapist, or social media. The committee helps coordinate pickup.

Once the tryke is received, it is evaluated to determine damage, missing parts, and necessary repairs. This assessment, in combination with length of ownership, is used to calculate the depreciated value and the “ReCycle credit.” (We use a formula provided to us by an accountant who deals specifically with equipment depreciation.)

Depreciated Value=InitialValue-[# months of ownership*((Initial Value*.7)/60)]

We then multiply the depreciated value by a percentage factor based on the tryke’s condition to determine the family’s ReCycle credit.  When the credit is determined, families then have the option to raise the difference in the cost of a new Amtryke and the ReCycle credit or to be added to our chapter Wish List for funding support.

We use the ReCycle credit as an incentive to encourage good maintenance and overall care of the trykes. With a consistent 60-70 rider Wish List, it is our hope that an Amtryke that is not ridden (for any reason) is never left to collect dust or rust rather than being put to use!

Once we’ve secured the Amtryke (or scheduled a pick-up), the chapter secretary then determines who is next up on the Wish List in need of that particular frame.  We then confirm the family’s interest in a ReCycle versus waiting for a brand new Amtryke. Next, a list of parts and accessories needed for the next rider is compiled and ordered.

In the interim, the recycled tryke receives a heavy dose of elbow grease to bring back that bright red and chrome shine. Most of the time, the Amtrykes look so good when fully refurbished that people assume they are brand new. In the event that a tryke comes back to us in poor shape, we “scrap it” for usable parts to be put to use by our “fleet” in action and those that are yet to be given out.

When the needed adaptive accessories are added or changed out, and the safety check is complete, a therapist chapter member or therapist volunteer meets up with the family to do a fitting. If one of our large giveaway events is coming up, we will often do the fitting there.

This process has evolved over the years and we have faced some challenges. ReCycled Amtrykes “in waiting” have to be stored somewhere in the transitional period between riders.  For us, that has meant the trunk of a car, a warehouse, a closet, a workplace, and even a chapter member’s kitchen! When families cannot transport a tryke, chapter members have to go pick them up.

Initially, the requests to ReCycle trickled in. However, we now have a steady stream, averaging with 2-4 per month. These calls and emails do not always occur in the weeks before a large giveaway event (which would be the most convenient). What this means is more individual fittings for new riders and lots of logistics gymnastics. This can be a drain on chapter members so we do our best to spread the love and request new volunteers for these duties each month.

The most exciting development within our ReCycle program is yet to come! This summer, we will hold our first ReCycle Roundup! Families and volunteers will be invited to bring pending ReCycles to us at a park or school. If needed, trained therapist evaluators will assess each current rider for his or her new Amtryke while other volunteers assist families with a tryke wash and tune up. The ReCycle committee will then assess the bike and determine needed repairs or guide volunteers for scrapping parts. If the condition of the incoming Amtryke is known to be excellent, and it fits the needs of a child on the Wish List, it will roll right back out that day with a new rider. This will allow our current riders and their families to come full circle and serve as the “next link” in the Amtryke chain. Once the available ReCycles are rounded up, it will be much easier to determine what to order to accessorize the trykes specifically or the next riders at the upcoming large giveaway event.

Since its official start in 2016, the MCT ReCycle Program has brought a refreshened set of wheels to more than 20 children on our Wish List. A handful of our riders are on his or her third Amtryke, and a handful of our Amtrykes have had three different riders! We love telling our sponsors about this program. To us, it means more kids riding with shorter wait times and less funds to be raised. To them, it means their donated dollars go further. In the land of charitable causes, “sustainability” can be a major selling point for potential and return donors.

We know that there are no two identical AMBUCS chapters or Amtryke programs. However, we hope you’ll be able to take a few ideas from this post to start or strengthen your ReCycle program.

Best of luck and shoulders together!

Beth Smith and Ashley Schilling
ReCycle Chair and President
Music City Trykes Chapter of National AMBUCS

Inspiring Young Leaders

-Candace Reim, Enid Noon AMBUCS (OK)

I first became an Ambuc in January 2014. My boss at the time asked a friend of his to take me as a guest. When I walked into the meeting that day I was greeted by several familiar faces from around the community but one thing immediately stood out to me, I was quite a bit younger than most of the members. The meeting proceeded as (what I now know is) normal and then we adjourned. Several members came by and introduced themselves and thanked me for coming before I left. Upon leaving the meeting, I knew that I liked the vibe of this organization but I did not quite understand what they did.

The following week I joined as a member and began to ask the necessary questions: what is the point of this group, what exactly do you do, and if Enid Noon is the  third largest chapter in the nation, why haven’t I heard of you before? I was quickly informed about our mission to provide mobility and the many things our chapter does around the community. I learned that the most likely reason I had not heard of Enid Noon AMBUCS before is because I had not really been involved in the community before, but that was all about to change in a very big way.

Each year our chapter hosts the Tour de Trykes event to raise money for trykes. The year I joined, they were looking for a new event chair to keep the fundraiser going. I could tell by the tone of the conversation that this event was very important if we wished to raise the necessary funds to purchase trykes for local citizens. As with most things in my life, I didn’t think twice about it and volunteered to take over the event. I was nervous that with me being so new, they would decline my offer, but I was welcomed with open arms. This decision could be one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Without much direction, I set off on my journey to plan this event and my life living in Enid would never be the same.

I had just become not only a leader in my chapter, but also a leader in my community in a matter of weeks. Through this journey I was exposed to so many other community organizations as well as community members that I had seen but never been introduced to. I also found that planning this event was also the best way to get to know all the members of our chapter.

My second year in AMBUCS involved being invited to work as a “buddy” for Miracle League. When I showed up at the baseball field at AMBUC park, I was amazed to see a playground and park developed for those with special needs. I had lived in Enid for five years and had no clue this park even existed. I proceeded to be paired with a young man in a wheelchair that was so excited to be playing ball. When I left that day, I was so filled with joy from watching these individuals have so much fun. I returned the next week and have missed very few ever since. The following year I volunteered as a coach and have been doing it for three years now. Nothing makes me happier than watching my team get to play ball and I spread the word of Miracle League every chance I get.

Year three in my adventure with AMBUCS, I was faced with a medical issue that involved swelling on my brain. My chapter rallied behind me and helped me any chance they could. I was allowed to remain a member under associate status and another member stepped up to plan our Tour de Trykes that year. I spent the entire year dealing with my illness and making very few of our weekly meetings. When I was finally feeling well enough to return full time, I was able to walk back into chapter like I never left.

I remember my first meeting back just sitting there wondering why more people did not belong to this organization. I had seen the smiles of the kids as they got on their first tryke. I had seen members rally behind each other to support them through illnesses, lost spouses and loved ones, and even through lost members. I could not wrap my mind around why this chapter wasn’t twice as large.

This thought process led me to the biggest decision of my life. I decided to pursue my doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Through my studies I have learned that AMBUCS is a servant leadership organization. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

  • We want to be a better organization
  • We want to enrich each other’s lives
  • We want a more caring world

We ARE a servant leadership organization! Here are a few questions we should consider.

  • How can we appeal to younger professionals and revitalize our aging chapter?
    • Mentorships, partnerships, igniting the passion.
  • How can we grow?
    • Do more than what you have always done or you will only get what you have always gotten.
  • How can we keep people connected?
    • Give them ownership of something: event, sergeant-of-arms, greeter, etc.
    • Identify their passion and plug them back in.
  • How do we put the fun back into our chapter?
    • Ask members what we have done well in the past.
  • How do we remain visible?
    • Find new ways to plug into the community.
    • Serve the community as much as you serve each other.
    • Become the “go-to” organization, it will give the first dibs on new opportunities.
  • So what now?
    • Motivate your chapter, ask for feedback, empower them to come forward with new ideas, be willing to “give up” your role, go back to the basics and remember why you are here!

I became a dedicated Ambuc because I was not afraid to jump right in, but let’s face it, not many people will blindly jump in the same manner. So, we are left with trying to find a way to get new members involved and help them find their role in AMBUCS. We all have different passions. We all enjoy specific fundraisers and activities that take part in chapter. It is our responsibility to get to know our new members and identify their individual talents. Once we know their talents, we need to put those talents to work for our Chapter. We need to be open to new ideas and experiences that will allow every member of every age to play an integral role in achieving our mission.

I challenge each of you to take an active role in identifying the hidden talents within your chapter and finding ways to promote those talents not only within AMBUCS, but also within the community.

It Starts with You!


Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as your AMBUCS National President for the 2017-18 year. The theme of my year is “IT STARTS WITH YOU.” This theme came to me when I realized that every AMBUCS success starts with a single member. We, the National Board and AMBUCS Resource Center (ARC) staff, thank you for all you do to make AMBUCS great!

When I began looking at things I wanted to do this year, increased communication was at the top of my list. I expressed this desire to our Marketing and Communications Director Angela Labrecque and Executive Director Jay Laurens, they came on board immediately with a lot of excitement.

Angela suggested I explain why I wanted to start a blog. So here it is: I wanted a monthly blog to exchange information and ideas and to let you know that we are here to serve you. Your ideas and thoughts are just as valuable as mine, the staff’s, board’s or those of any other AMBUCS member.

As defined by Wikipedia,

“A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries.”

This blog will be a monthly discussion on various topics and will include guest bloggers. Through the blog I hope to broaden all of our knowledge of AMBUCS and where we have been, are currently and will be going.

Some of the topics will be AMBUCS history, fundraising ideas, grants, member recruitment, telling your story and communication (social media, websites, press releases and how do I get my chapter noticed by the media?). We want you to tell us the topics you want to know more about too.

I want to use this blog as a bridge to the future. Our strength is in working together. Together we are at our strongest. Our impact is huge and only growing. WE are all AMBUCS!

Your National Board and ARC staff are here to serve you. Let’s work together to create solutions and use our gifts to change more lives.