The newsletter of the Active Transportation Alliance

Modeshift Fall 2012


Volunteer has a passion for helping others

By Daniel Abdalla

Even though 2012 marked  her fourth year volunteering at MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive, Pamela Cooley said she never fails to be amazed with the sight of all of the riders together having a great time while filling up Lake Shore Drive. 

As a Bike the Drive volunteer group leader, Cooley has the job of not only gathering volunteers, but ensuring those volunteers turn out on time -- often before sunrise -- the day of the event. One of the ways in which she has ensured her group arrives on time for their early-morning start is by using a calling tree in which members call one another on the morning of the ride. This guarantees that everyone is informed and gets to the lakefront by the time of the ride. 

Cooley, pictured right, said she loves it when riders personally thank the volunteers. She experienced a particularly touching moment during the 2010 ride when a handicapped cyclist fell from his bike and everyone around the rider quickly jumped into action to help him. Cooley found not only this man's dedication to be on a bike inspirational, but also was deeply moved by the spirit of the riders and the shared sense of community.

Because she loves being outdoors, her group goes on a nature walk after the volunteering for Bike the Drive, but not before they go out for a team breakfast. She believes that these types of activities create a bond within the group.

In addition to Bike the Drive, Cooley dedicates her time to other volunteer causes, both inside and outside of Active Trans. She has also been a group leader for the Four Star Bike Tour for the past four years. She said she loves helping to promote biking and its environmental benefits.

Outside of her work with Active Trans, Cooley’s passion for helping others continues. She is deeply involved with Electa Chapter 588, the women’s arm of the Eastern Star Masonic group. The basic function of the group is do charity, and she believes that Bike the Drive and the Four Star Bike Tour are great opportunities for her and the other members of her group to fulfill its goals and take an active part in community volunteer events.

In December 2011, the group purchased around 75 bicycles for underprivileged children. Working closely with school principals, the group distributed the bikes to local kids who were most in need of a holiday gift. The chapter also planned a mini luncheon for the holidays so that it could spend time with the children and their families. Additionally, Electa 588 volunteers with Avon charity efforts and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Cooley said her passion for community service is closely connected with her ability to effectively balance her family time and work responsibilities. She places special importance on both encouraging youth and her own family members to serve worthy causes. “It's my lifestyle. I have to give back,” she said. “At least on a weekly basis, even a daily basis. We have to. Each person has to help someone.”

Daniel Abdalla is an Active Trans volunteer writer. 

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