New Home on the Road
Mary Kate Long ’10
to participate in Bike & Build, each cyclist must
raise at least $4,000. To support Mary Kate Long’s
ride across the country, view her .
Remember that time,
students, a few weeks into your first semester at Smith,
when you said to your friends, “I’m gonna head home,” and
for the first time "home" had a different meaning? No longer
Boston, not Chicago anymore, nor California or wherever
you came from. Home now meant Wilson, or Tyler, or Chapin
For many of us graduating seniors,
Smith has been home for the past four years. A place to throw
your backpack. A place to sleep in on a rainy day, share
meals with friends, a place to feel safe and comfortable,
and loved. Home is important.
As I prepare to leave Smith,
I feel like I’m
about to leave home again.
Come summer, home for me
will be on the saddle of my shiny, new Giant aluminum-frame,
10-speed road bike. On Friday, June 18, I will set off
with 30 other young people on a cross-country bike trip
to raise money and awareness for affordable housing in
the United States, with the nonprofit organization .
Along the way, we cyclists will build houses with organizations
like Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, while
getting to know the hometowns of hundreds of people across
Not everyone has a good place
to call home, even right here in the Pioneer Valley. In Hampshire
and Franklin Counties, 69 percent of families renting low-income
housing spend more than a third of their income on their
homes. And there is not a single county in the United States
in which an individual can afford even a one-bedroom apartment
while working 40 hours a week at minimum wage.
2002, Bike & Build has contributed more than $2.3 million
dollars and 63,500 volunteer hours to affordable housing
groups nationwide, sending more than 1,000 cyclists on
several routes across the country. I will cycle from Boston
to Santa Barbara, Calif.—about 3,700 miles—in less than
10 weeks. Our route will traverse the Berkshire and Appalachian
mountains, cross the Mississippi River, pedal through Midwestern
planes and the Mojave Desert, and around the Grand Canyon
to the California coast.
We will stop in communities
along the way to talk with people about our trip and the
affordable housing issue, and help them become more involved
in efforts to improve housing standards. Some days, we’ll
trade our bikes for hammers and work with families on construction
sites, where together, we will build the houses that will
become their homes.