Q&A With Microgrant Recipient Nathan


Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet Nathan (16) from Chapel Hill, NC. Nathan is a youth volunteer mechanic for the ReCYCLEry NC and used his award to get more youth involved with the ReCYCLEry. The ReCYCLEry’s mission is to encourage bicycle use by community members for either transportation or recreation, and to support bicycle culture as an affordable and environmentally-friendly form of transportation. Additionally, volunteers at ReCYCLEry teach biking safety and assist kids with disabilities in learning how to ride bikes; donate bikes to kids in need; teach life skills; and develop young leaders. For this particular project, high-school age volunteers promoted the organization to students during lunch at schools. The volunteers also taught mechanic classes and introductory bicycle skills to 30-40 community members.

  1. What inspired you to start this project? I noticed that the ReCYCLEry’s shop was starting to fall into disrepair and that there were very few youth volunteers around the shop. I wanted to fix both of these problems to ensure the longevity of the ReCYCLEry.
  2. Other than you, how many student volunteers participated in your service project?  5
  3. Other than you, how many adult volunteers participated in your service project?  4
  4. How many hours did you spend on your project? 12
  5. How many hours did other volunteers spend on your project? 6
  6. How many individuals were affected by your project?  1000
  7. During the time period between when you applied for a K4C microgrant & when you completed the project, what surprised you?  What was the most surprising to me is how much one can be set back by relying specifically on one person when completing a project. Both myself and Rich (the chairman of the ReCYCLEry) relied too heavily on our volunteer contractor to show up and help us get our project done. When he didn’t show on our main cleanup weekend, we had to reschedule and re-evaluate our situation.
  8. Overall what did you learn from this experience? As mentioned above, I learned how the success of a project can be pivotal on the availability of one person. We had one instance where we were scheduled to install our bike racks, but didn’t have the contractor (who is a volunteer) to help us mount the racks on the wall. In response to this, I learned how to make the most out of a less-than-ideal situation when we don’t have the tools we need. I also learned how to organize and motivate a group of volunteers into an effective working force in such situations.
  9. How will your project continue having an impact in the future? My project will have a lasting impact on the ReCYCLEry by allowing volunteers to be more efficient when volunteering during open shop weekends. Bike storage will be more efficient now as well. The ReCYCLEry also gained at least two new youth volunteers who are planning on volunteering during open shop weekends.
  10. How was the K4C microgrant helpful in the completion of your project?  The microgrant helped myself and others at the ReCYCLEry facilitate the purchase of materials required to help improve the shop (eg. bike hooks, 2×4 and 2×8 boards, storage racks and shelving units).