Monday, July 26, 2010

Red sky in Morning — You Know the Rest

Volunteers James Helmuth (back row, from left), Kayla Varney, Alyssa McFall, Carla Smith, Kara Brook, Rob Hamilton, Jack Toliver and Carol Ralston (front row, from left) and Darlene Toliver.

Rob and I were greeted with a brilliant, golden-red sunrise Saturday morning at the early hour of 5 o'clock. We reluctantly got up and started to pack for our day volunteering for the Rural Pearl Scenic Bike Tour.

Before we left, we checked the online weather radar, which didn't add to our enthusiasm. The screen showed a huge green mass making its way to our area. The old saying, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning" made its way to my lips.

Despite the weather warnings, we grabbed some rain gear and headed to Oxford.

Like most events, this was just a bit disorganized as we waited for everyone to arrive. But soon enough we were unloading supplies. Rob and I started cutting up bananas and filling bowls with fruit for the hungry riders. Then, we stuffed the goodie bags with magazines and maps as sprinkles dropped onto our heads, making the cardboard boxes mushy.

Though the weather did not look promising, many riders were still coming out -- more surprising was the amount of riders taking on the challenge of 48 miles. Luckily, during our three-hour stint, the rain had held off.

Money raised from the tour goes to help fund programs for the The Oxford /Addison Youth Assistance. A variety of programs are offered, including one-on-one mentoring, parenting classes and a youth summer garden.

Darlene Toliver, secretary for the organization, looks every bit as sweet and kind as a grandmother could be, and she is.

Three years ago, her granddaughter was having difficulties dealing with her parent's divorce, and she began acting out. She was directed to the youth assistance, and now at 12 is an honor student.

"Three years ago we were having problems," she said. "And now, she's turned her life around. I feel like I'm helping give back because of my grandchild, but I think I would've done it anyway.

"I've been very lucky," she added. "We've been here for thirty years, and it feels good to give back."

In between registering riders, she chats with the other volunteers. One, Carla Smith of Oxford, who also wanted to give back to her community as well as meet new people. There were also a lot of teenagers helping out — the volleyball team, and a young student who was applying for National Honor Society.

Rob and I also had the benefit of meeting some bike enthusiasts, who encouraged our own love of the sport and gave us helpful hints. Now, we're excited for next year, because we want to ride. For this evening though, I will settle on twenty miles in my new, snug bike shorts.

To learn more about youth assistance programs offered in the Oakland County area, visit

1 comment:

  1. haha yes im sooo glad i finally found this i need it for a school project (professional portfolio) and we need proof of community service like pictures and stuff.