One year. One year ago our team walked in the office, just as we will do today, thinking we would need to find a way to stay productive for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, March 9th marked one full calendar year since our Kids Riding Bikes teams walked out of the schools they were serving on March 9, 2020 for what we thought would be a very temporary suspension of our programming. In the days that followed it quickly became apparent that was not going to be the case. Once we realized that we would not be returning to schools for an extended and unknown period of time, we were faced with a question that was as simple as it was daunting: What happens when everything stops?
To be honest, we did not know the answer to that question. We weren’t even sure that there was one. The harsh truth was that we weren’t sure whether or not Nine13sports would survive the COVID-19 pandemic at all.
But there has never been any quit in this team, and we had no plans to start. With that in mind, our leadership started talking options. Most were hypothetical thoughts and “what-ifs”, but this exercise allowed us to break things down and take stock of the resources we had: trucks, trailers, warehouse space, people.
That last one was the most important. Think back to those early days in March of 2020. Those were the most uncertain for everyone in the world, our team included. What was safe? Where was safe? How bad was this thing going to be? These very real questions led to another question: Who would be willing to stay on board at Nine13sports in the face of a global pandemic with an unknown severity to do a job that we still had no idea what it would be?
The answer: Every. Single. Person.
If there is one thing 2020 was full of for everyone, it was questions. There were so many questions about everything. There was fear. There was worry. There was doubt. But mostly, there were questions. Despite all the uncertainty, we all decided as a team that no matter what it looked like, if there was something we could collectively to help our community get through COVID-19 we were going to do it. Luckily, we were very quickly brought to the team at Gleaners Food Bank. With our resources and their needs our partnership fit so perfectly it was almost hard to believe and the decision to team up was made in days. We were going to help in fight against food insecurity. This was a new battle for us, but a year later we are still here. We are still side by side with great organizations like Gleaners, Indy Hunger Network and Second Helpings and we are still serving the community one food delivery at a time.
It has been an amazing thing to step back and actually process what the last 365 days have been for our team as we have navigated a global pandemic, efforts to make sure we stayed open, and the personal trials and tribulations that we have all faced along the way. We managed to continue modified versions of some of our bicycle programming, and recently we have begun the process of safely relaunching the rest, but as we stand together after maybe the most challenging, difficult, inspiring, and incredible year our organization has ever been through, we wanted to take a moment and reflect.
We have delivered more than 6,500,000 pounds of food in the last 365 days. That number is the result of the combined efforts from our Household Delivery and Agency Delivery Teams made up of 12 employees, 2 interns, 4 Sprinter vans, 2 truck and trailers, a 26-foot box truck, a forklift, and an office cat named Wheeler.
Our Household Delivery Team now has the capacity to deliver to approximately 250 homes every single day. When we started, we had a goal of 100-150 homes. As we have worked and learned over the last year, we have blown that goal away.
Our Agency Delivery Team has the capacity to deliver to nearly 40 agencies in a single week. These agencies are community centers, churches, smaller food pantries, other non-profits, and many more organizations that stepped up in March of 2020 to distribute food to their local neighborhoods and fight the same battle we are.
Through all of this, we have still found ways to safely continue our bike programming with our Kids Building Bikes and ExploreIndy programs. They haven’t looked like they normally would, but we are still able to use the bike to empower kids all across central Indiana. We are also excited to see our day-to-day efforts beginning to trend back towards bike programming with the recent relaunch of our Kids Riding Bikes program. Additionally, we officially began programming in our brand-new Building Bikes Lab which we started and completed construction on in the last year.
Now obviously we want to see the demand for our food delivery services go down. Everyone does. We want to see people recover from this difficult time and thrive moving forward into the remainder of 2021. But as we have said from the beginning of this pandemic: As long as there is a need, we will be here to help. That hasn’t changed. With that in mind, we also launched Nine13 Logistics, which is a community focused effort that gives programs like our food delivery initiatives and other community focused logistics related projects a permanent home.
Much like the rest of the world, we never saw this coming. The last 365 days has brought challenges unlike any of us could have ever imagined… but we stuck together. Our team stuck together, our community stuck together, our partners stood by our side, and new ones came ready to help however they could. To say that we are proud of not only each other, but of each and every one of you that has supported us these last 12 months would be the understatement of the year.
Oh, and I think we’ve found the answer to that question we’ve been asking.
So, what happens when everything stops? You keep going. Together.