SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 24, 2013

Spreading the word on affordable housing

Advocate will pedal cross-country while stopping to build homes along the way

SALEM — Kristin Anderson will bicycle from Maine to California this summer, building houses along the way.

The 29-year-old Salem resident is riding with Bike and Build, a nonprofit that sends groups of cyclists across the country each summer to volunteer at affordable housing building sites.

Anderson’s employer, the North Shore Community Development Coalition, has granted her a leave of absence for the 11-week trek. Her Bike and Build group — one of eight traversing the U.S. this summer — leaves from Portland, Maine, June 18 and plans to finish in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Aug. 31.

Affordable housing is a cause near and dear to Anderson’s heart — she’s worked at North Shore CDC, overseeing programming for youth and families, for close to four years.

“The why is because I can throw myself behind this wholeheartedly,” she said. “The other why is ‘why not?’ What would Kristin look back on her life in 10 years and be proud of? ... It’s the right thing to do.”

Anderson will be one of four leaders in a 30-person Bike and Build group. They’ll stop to help at 10 building sites along their route, including Fitchburg and Pittsfield.

Over the 77-day trek, the group will have just three days off: at the Grand Canyon; Roswell, N.M.; and Pittsburgh.

“I can’t describe how excited I am,” she said. “It’s going to be one of those experiences where you walk away and you just can’t explain it to anyone else.”

Among Anderson’s group is another rider with North Shore ties, Vermonter Samantha Mae Long, who just graduated from Endicott College in Beverly. Long and Anderson have done some training rides together this spring.

In a way, Anderson’s volunteer work this summer is connected to her hometown of Salem.

In addition to spreading awareness of the need for affordable housing, Bike and Build gives grants to affordable housing agencies across the U.S. Some of the fundraising done by their cross-country riders goes to Bike and Build’s grants.

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