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Character building, yes, but home building, too

FALLS VILLAGE — Joe Atwood, son of Tracy and Mary Atwood of Falls Village, is gearing up for a cross-country bicycle trip to raise funds and awareness for affordable housing efforts.

He’s in the “home stretch,†so to speak, of his fundraising, Atwood set his bike up at the transfer station Saturday, May 8, hoping to get attention and donations. He said he had about $3,200 of the $4,000 he needs. That figure did not include what had accumulated in the donations box at about 10:30 a.m.

The trip starts in Nag’s Head, N.C., on May 14 and ends in San Diego, Calif., on July 24.

Access to the Internet will be sporadic, Atwood said, but he promised to keep in touch with The Lakeville Journal by cell phone and share updates along the road.

The sponsoring organization is Bike and Build, a nonprofit  that, according to its Web site, has contributed $2,305,345 to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by young adults over the past seven years.

“Through prearranged gifts, Bike and Build funds affordable housing projects executed by our participants in communities where our events begin .... Bike and Build also supports local affordable housing organizations along each route through on-the-road donations.â€

Atwood participated in a 2008 ride; one of the stops was in Kent, where the riders stayed at the Kent School. Habitat for Humanity provided a dinner.

That’s the typical arrangement, Atwood said. “We arrange with community groups for a place to stay, a meal.

“And we do stop here and there to build with affordable housing groups.â€

Each rider is expected to raise $4,000 prior to the start of the trip.

The money is then distributed through Bike and Build’s grant program. There are also small donations that are made along the cycling routes plus some prearranged donations. Each rider also has the opportunity to allocate the recipient of $500 of the money  raised. For Atwood, that money will go to Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut.

  “I have helped build with them in the past at their four sites down on Lime Rock Station Road,†he said.

Riders are also expected to help out with home construction projects for eight hours. Atwood said he will fulfill his hours here in the Northwest Corner.

A 2008 graduate of Vincennes University in Indiana, Atwood splits his time between Norwalk and Falls Village. His sister Catherine, a student at Virginia Tech, is participating in a different Bike and Build trip, through the central United States.

For more information, call Atwood at 540-808-9492 or visit bikeandbuild.org.

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