ELLSWORTH, Kan. (KSNW) – A nonprofit located inside the Ellsworth Correctional Facility needs the public’s help.
The Ellsworth Correctional Facility Bike Shop allows inmates to learn new skills in a work environment. The men spend nearly seven hours a day at the shop refurbishing donated bicycles.
“They’re the ones who actually refurbish the bicycles. They take them completely apart and then they’re learning new skills. They’re learning how to use new tools for the workforce when they get out, get in a mind-set of being able to work,” said Ellsworth Corrections Officer Phillip DeCouteau.
Once the bicycles are refurbished and inspected, the facility sends them to area nonprofits and organizations that serve people in need.
“We help people in need for transportation, families, workers, sometimes even disabled who can’t drive,” DeCouteau said. “People call up and they ask for bicycles, usually different non-profit organizations, schools and businesses and we help them out. Whenever they come to pick up bikes, they drop off bicycles and it’s just an ongoing process.”
In 2016, the shop donated more than 1,200 refurbished bicycles. Right now, the inmates are working to fulfill Christmas orders. However, the group is in dire need of more bikes to fix up.
“Right now, we are low on 26-inch male and female adult bikes and we have got 300 to 400 bicycles we need to get ready for Christmas. We need about 100, 150, 26-inch bicycles,” DeCouteau said.
DeCouteau said if the facility doesn’t get some donations soon, the inmates might not be able to fulfill all of their orders.
“Well, we will have to cancel some Christmas orders and possibly, they won’t get the orders until next year, next spring or they might have to wait until next Christmas,” he said. “It kind of makes me a little sad. I really want to get these kids their bicycles and we haven’t failed to get all of our orders out in the past and so that’s why I’m reaching out to the public to help us reach our goals this year.”
If you’d like to donate a used bike to the Ellsworth Correctional Facility Bike Shop contact DeCouteau at Phillip.DeCouteau@ks.gov or you can drop off donations to the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.