Service student earns new award

The bikers traveled from coast to coast across the US, constructing homes and braving the elements. Occasionally facing extreme elements, the bikers spent nine weeks raising money for the Bike and Build organization. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Thomas

Beginning this month, Linfield’s new Changemaker of the Month program acknowledged the community service accomplishments of Linfield students.
The first winner of the award is junior Mary Stevens for her work this summer with the Bike & Build program, with which she built homes for the poor.
The program’s founder is junior Lindsey Thomas, a community service assistant, said that she noticed during the last two years that many Linfield students achieve tremendous deeds and never received any recognition.
Thomas said she and her friend, sophomore Rachel Coffey, decided to pioneer a program that allowed the Community Service Office to recognize people monthly for good deeds done outside of the college.
The result is the Changemaker of the Month program, which is overseen by Community Service Coordinator Jessica Wade.
Thomas, Coffey and Wade chose this month’s winner. Future winners will be chosen through student nominations.
The winners receive a certificate. Thomas said that since the purpose of the program is to recognize students, a certificate is appropriate.
Thomas heard of Steven’s story through connections on the cross-country team and realized it was an amazing accomplishment.
Stevens spent nine weeks this past summer biking across the entire country, from Providence, R.I., to Seattle, Wash., with a team of others.
Every few days, the team stopped at designated areas and built homes with organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, and raised money for the main organization: Bike and Build.

Junior Mary Stevens rode her bike from state to state this summer to build houses for low-income Americans with a program called Bike and Build. The program worked with other community service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Thomas

They brought with them only what they could carry on their backs in duffle bags or backpacks and did laundry every four days.
At night, they slept on the floors of churches, barns, schools and wherever else they could find charity. Rain, hail and intense heat proved to be problems at some times.
“There was this one day when it was so hot [that] everyone ran out of water by second lunch … and stopped and drank from people’s hoses,” Stevens said.
In the end, the group raised about $160,000 for Bike and Build.
Five other groups of people were riding across the country as well; they raised a similar amount of money, bringing the total to almost $1,000,000.
Thomas said she knew that this story needed to be told.
“I never could have imagined people doing some of these things, like riding across the country,” she said.
Stevens has had her name and story mentioned in the Linfield Newsletter, but true to the nature of the Changemaker program, she isn’t looking for recognition.
She said she wants people to get involved with Bike and Build.
She said she hopes more students will undertake the journey in the future and participate in what she calls “the greatest experience of my life.”
The nomination forms will be located in Renshaw Hall.
Students will be able to turn the forms in at the Office of Community
Service, located in Walker Hall.

Matt Sunderland Senior reporter
Matt Sunderland can be reached at

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