In 1999, TFK International founder Marilyn Price put Paula Fricke, Keith Caviness and Michael Perrott in touch with one another; they were all interested in forming a TFK chapter in Charlotte. The trio held a planning meeting the same year and incorporated Trip for Kids Charlotte (TFKC) as a 501(c)(3) the following year, in 2000.
The organization also began its Ride Program in 2000 with 10 used bikes. TFKC grew substantially in 2002 when a Foundation for the Carolinas grant provided $17,000 to fund the Ride Program and a part-time ride leader. The organization also received $6,500 for ride expenses from Speedway Charities that same year.
The following year, in 2003, TFKC began to see its vision for a used bike shop take shape. Harry Johnson, a board director at the time, rented out his house to International Management for the Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Championship golf tournament and donated the fee to help establish the Charlotte Re-Cyclery.
With Keith Sorensen serving as the first Charlotte Re-Cyclery manager, the used bike shop opened in 2006 at 512 E. 15th St. near the NoDa neighborhood, where it is today. The Charlotte Re-Cyclery refurbishes donated bikes for use in the Earn-A-Bike Program and for sale to support the program. The shop initially occupied 1,538 square feet but now is more than twice that size.
The Charlotte Re-Cyclery is easy to spot at the corner of North Davidson and 15th streets because of its colorful cycling mural. More than 300 volunteers painted it in 2010 thanks to a $4,900 grant from the Arts & Science Council, a paint-by-numbers design from artist Will Puckett and financial and in-kind contributions from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
The Charlotte Re-Cyclery also houses the Earn-A-Bike Program, which began in 2005 and was based at Black Sheep Cycles on Morehead Street until the Charlotte Re-Cyclery opened the following year. The program allows youngsters to attend classes on bike safety, maintenance and repair to earn their own bike.
Since the mid-2000s, TFKC Charlotte has steadily grown thanks to community and business support, dedicated volunteers and committed part-time staff. The board named Paula Fricke executive director in 2011. More than 3,000 kids have participated in TFKC rides, more than 500 have earned their bikes and the Charlotte Re-Cyclery has operated in the black since 2008.
Since our inception in 1999, more than 3,500 kids have participated in our Ride and EAB programs.