Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A new bike for Jacqueline

On Nov. 10, we posted an item from East Village resident Michele McVicar, who was trying to help a homeless woman who lost her bicycle during Hurricane Sandy. Michele provides an update here.


This is Jacqueline, a lovely 76 year-old French woman who lives down at the East River where I go walking every day. She lost her bike in the recent hurricane. She relied heavily on the bike to get around. She is disabled and walks with some difficulty assisted by her cane. She never ever asks for anything. I have tried to give her money in the past but she won't take it. She saves up her apples to give to my dog when I pass by. She told me she has been homeless since 2001 and has (unsuccessfully) applied for housing 4 separate times. (She has a strong and, unfortunately, rather stubborn mind.)

When I saw her after the hurricane I was relieved to see she had made it! She camps in a small tent right by one of those posts you see under the highway at Avenue C and 20th Street. She told me she was forcefully evacuated and I guess glad, as she had planned to stay here during the storm. It ended up flooding here. She would have died. Her bike and belongings were swept away.

I offered to get her a replacement and she was thrilled. Immediately I started looking ... but couldn't find what I was looking for. I hunted high and low to get a cheap or free one. My friend Jeff owns Continuum Cycles, and he offered to help me. He checked his stock and basement to see if he had something that would work. She needed a really small bike as she is only 5-2.

Jeff and I finally found one at Recycle-A-Bicycle who, upon hearing Jackie's plight, sold us a vintage Ross 17-inch bike for very cheap ($50). However, it needed lots of work. New cables, seat, tires, gear work, brake pads, basket and rear carrier, bell and bike locks. Jeff offered to do the work for cost while I set to find donations from all my friends and neighbors to help pay for it all. Most didn't even know Jackie but were really happy to be part of the project. Another neighbor offered to get us the bike seat. I probably could have paid for this all by myself but I wanted to share the blessing of giving to someone and to introduce more people to Jackie's existence.

On November 17 the bike was ready. It was dark already but I found Jackie along the river. She was so happy to get her new bike. I gave her a card with signatures and messages from all the people who helped pay for the bike. She reminded me of my grandmother, who whenever I gave her something, she would immediately want to do something for you.

On Sunday, I went back to see how she was liking the bike and to give her some winter clothes.

She confided that the day I gave her the bike was a special day for her. November 17 was her father's birthday and he had given Jackie her very first bike.


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. NYC needs more people who think and feel like you!

Anonymous said...

More stories like these!

esquared™ said...

+1

"My life has crept so long on a broken wing
Thro’ cells of madness, haunts of horror and fear,
That I come to be grateful at last for a little thing." ~ Tennyson

This post puts the happy and giving and thanks in Happy Thanksgiving.

Scooby said...

We shoud all be this human each and every day.

It is great to hear stories like this - most have this type of humanity within.

Remember, people = "We are all in this together"

Shawn Chittle said...

Michele McVicar = the real Santa Claus.

It's a wonderful life.

Anonymous said...

Great story, but it won't be a "wonderful life" until somebody gives or finds this woman a place to live.

dwg said...

A good deed done. None too small.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful!

Michelle,
It sounds like Jacqueline tried to get housing but that she needs some help. I don't know which type of housing would be best for her because I don't know her personality. If she has some mental health problems I think that Community Access would be a good place to contact. She deinitely should stay in the area. This is her area. She might do well in senior housing. There are a number of senior buildings in Alphabet City. There is actually a fairly new building on E. 9th between C and D. I am not sure about what type of housing will suit her best. There's The Lee on Houston or The Christopher, but that's on 24th, these are Common Ground buildings.

Marty Wombacher said...

What a great holiday story, cheers to Michele and Jacqueline!

Goggla said...

This made my day. Thanks to Michele and all who helped this woman.

Makeout said...

Way positive!

glamma said...

great story. very warming. thanks for the post!

Carrie Beehan said...

Michele,

You are an inspiration and your kindness and love, your deep sense of nurturing and your dedication to caring for your community is extremely beautiful. It is an honor to be your friend.

Carrie Beehan. (a neighbor)

Joe Blow said...

very nice... nice bike!

oddly.. I have French relatives I have never met in for Thankgiving.. and they only speak French and none of us speak it!

Anonymous said...

Lovely story. Are there any readers who work for social services who might be able to connect this lovely woman with housing?

DrBOP said...

From small things, big things one day come......




......story MADE my Thanksgiving, and I'm up in Canada :+)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that she survived the storm. What a wonderful story.