Katarzyna Osiecka Kaszuba ’23

While most summers I decide to stay at home and locked away in my air-conditioned bedroom, this summer, I decided that staying in Newport and doing the Vision of Mercy Summer fellowship would not only be in my best interest, but I would also be helping a community. During the school year, I volunteer at Bike Newport as a Service Advocate, helping the office and with programs but also encouraging students to volunteer. When I was presented with the opportunity to apply for the fellowship, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do. My position and presence at Bike Newport were rapidly growing and being able to help during their busiest season was an amazing proposition. Especially since my critical concern focus is Earth.

Before I left for the summer, I was able to help organize an Earth Day clean up, my first event planned with Bike Newport. I was constantly helping them by spreading more information about their mission and what they do. While it felt like at times, I was doing only a little, at the end of the day I knew I was doing a lot to help. I also knew that helping during the summer would allow me to be exposed to more opportunities and be able to do things I normally wouldn’t be able to do during the school year due to the cold weather.

When I arrived earlier this month, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought these two months could drag on and I wouldn’t be doing much. But rather, I was immediately pulled in and was put to work. The past few weeks, I have been helping with clearing out their database. Which, while it can be a mundane task, helps a lot with energy usage. Clearing out old data, or old emails for example, is environmentally friendly and helps cut down on how much energy a database must use, both the one on your computer but also the one that is storing all this information in a far-off land. But also, clearing the information of someone who doesn’t want to be involved with Bike Newport, allows me to add people who do want to get involved and who are interested in biking and minimizing their carbon footprint.

Another of my current tasks is helping out with bike rentals, a recent addition to Bike Newport’s services. As the weather becomes nicer and Newport sees an influx of tourists, more and more people want to see the city. While there are a lot of people who will drive in their own cars, there are more and more people who are interested in biking around. Not only have I been helping with renting to people, I have also been making posters and spreading the word to anyone who comes in. Even if only 10 people rent a bike, that still means there are 10 fewer cars on the road, polluting the air.

While I am only a few weeks into the fellowship, there is still so much more to do and help with. June has been mostly prepping for the next month to come and I cannot wait to see how I can help Bike Newport and the community.