Stony Plain couple honoured for community bicycle donations

By Erika Stark 26 September 2019 3 min read

If you’re looking for Wes Hohnstein in Stony Plain these days, you’ll likely find him at the back of the Pet Foods Etc. on Main Street. Tucked in the back of the store owned by Hohnstein and his wife, Cynthia, is a makeshift bicycle repair shop.

Since August 2018, the couple has been fixing up donated bicycles and giving them back to the community—free of charge. The Hohnsteins were looking for a bike for their three-year-old grandson. They weren’t thrilled with the high price of a new bike, so they reached out to the community to see if someone had an old kids’ bike Hohnstein could fix up instead.

That was the start of something much bigger.

“Having been through our own hard times, we realized there’s plenty of other people out there that can’t afford bikes,” Hohnstein said. “Kids need a bike to socialize in their own communities and get away from the video games. It kind of evolved from there.”

Since last summer, the Hohnsteins have fixed up and given away 250 bicycles to kids and adults alike in Stony Plain.

“We’ve even had some individuals who can’t afford a vehicle get a bike so they can ride to work,” Hohnstein said. “Both Cynthia and I are very touched when we are able to help these folks out.”

The Hohnstein’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the community. On Sept. 24, they were honoured by ATB for the work they’ve done to give back to Stony Plain.

“Wes doesn’t do it to be flashy; it’s just out of the goodness of his heart,” said Paul Befis, the branch manager for the Stony Plain ATB. “It resonates throughout the community.”

Befus nominated the Hohnsteins as part of ATB’s surprise and delight program, which empowers branches to recognize their customers and find ways to create happiness through banking.

“We were extremely happy to be recognized for what we do in the community,” Hohnstein said.

Stony Plain’s other residents have played a key role in the Hohnsteins’ ability to continue with their bike repair donation program—all those bikes have to come from somewhere!

“The community has been 100 per cent supportive in what we do,” Hohnstein said.

YouTube’s been a pretty big help, too. While Hohnstein fixed up his own bikes when he was younger, he doesn’t have a professional background in bike mechanics. “It’s a learning curve,” he acknowledged. But Hohnstein said he loves the time he’s able to spend on the bikes. When the store is quiet and Cynthia or some of their employees are out on the floor, Hohnstein heads into the back to tinker.

“It’s my quiet time,” he said. “You go back and turn on your music, start tinkering away, it takes away the stress of the day.”

As part of the surprise and delight program, ATB presented the Hohnsteins with a cheque for $2,000 to go towards their community efforts.

“We were extremely humbled by the presentation of the cheque,” Hohnstein added. “I’m an old squarehead and it takes a lot to bring a tear to my eye. It was hard to hold them back.”

Hohnstein said with the amount of bikes that are donated, he doesn’t need the money for extra bikes or parts.

“I know we won’t be using it for ourselves,” he said. “It’ll go back to the community.”

The Hohnsteins have about 20 bikes they’re hoping to repair and donate back to the community before the snow flies. Come the spring, they’ll open the doors for more.

“It’s a small thing we’re doing,” Hohnstein said. “But it’s a big thing, too.”

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