Wheels Keep Turning Thanks to Helpful Houseparent

Riding bikes is a popular pastime for students – meaning bikes experience their fair share of wear and tear.

At St. Joseph’s Indian School, every measure is taken to be good stewards of the gifts donors send students. Some of those gifts are bicycles.

As expected, kids are hard on bikes. They zoom, race and bump along and the bikes take a beating in the name of having fun.

Rich, a houseparent at St. Joseph’s, spends his spare time keeping bikes on campus in working order.

Luckily for St. Joseph’s, a broken bike isn’t a lost cause. Houseparent Rich doubles as a handyman!

When Rich moved to Chamberlain to become a houseparent, he didn’t exactly expect to be spending his spare time fixing broken bicycles, but it’s been a blessing to our school.

“I really enjoy fixing bikes,” said Rich. “Actually, my first job was in a bike shop.”

Before coming to work as a houseparent four years ago with his wife, Tara, Rich had a full career in the Navy and then in the business/sales sector, meaning he spent his fair share of time in the “Rat Race.” But, he said the more money he made, the more time he spent away from loved ones. He needed a change for himself – for his family.

“That’s how we ended up here,” he said.

Rich said many people, including himself at one time, wondered “Who in their right mind would become a houseparent?” but for him and his family, it’s been a perfect fit.

“Call it a gut feeling, maybe a calling or whatever, but we just felt drawn to be here and it’s a simple job. All the kids care about at the end of the day is having someone who cares. For us, that’s an easy thing to do,” he said.

And showing he cares not only with his words, but with his simple actions of fixing a bike while students are in class, is something they really appreciate.

Most often, the problem with the bike is the tires have worn out or the chain has ripped. “Simple fixes” according to Rich. But, sometimes a new request comes in that takes a little more thought and creativity, such as turning a regular bike into a trick bike.

When it comes to riding bikes, kids are always on the go, go, GO!

Because he doesn’t throw away bikes that have been deemed unfixable, he has spare parts around to fulfill such requests. Or, if he finds himself with no bikes that need repairing, he’ll take parts from all the broken bikes in his shop to create a new, working bike.

“The kids are always excited to get their bikes back,” said Rich. “That’s what makes this fun.”

But, it’s fun for Rich, too. He laughs that he came to St. Joseph’s for a new experience, and yet found himself fixing bikes just as he did when he was a teenager.

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” he said. “How things come full circle.”

Pilamayathank you – for supporting Lakota (Sioux) children at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “Wheels Keep Turning Thanks to Helpful Houseparent”

  1. My wife & I were adult care coordinators for DD adults in Omaha, NE and it was very rewarding job and opened our eyes to a lot things we did not know.

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