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Positively the Heartland: The Bike Union focuses on youth impacted by foster care

Posted at 7:16 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 08:55:55-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — "I genuinely feel like we’re a different breed. We think different, we act different, we get treated different," said Tiffany Nitzel, an employee at The Bike Union and Coffee Shop.

For youth impacted by foster care, working at The Bike Union is so much more than serving up lattes and doing repairs.

“Just the unity that The Bike Union gives here, and like, showing that you’re special and this whole shop, you know, they only hire foster children. And for a whole year, you get to work on yourself. It’s just kind of special,” said Nitzel.

Along with building basic job skills through barista and bike mechanic experience, employees like Nitzel participate in various classes while on the clock.

"This is the best job I’ve ever had. I never get bored,” said Nitzel.

Staff learn about topics like financial literacy, nutrition, and Nitzel’s favorite, mindfulness meditation.

“It makes you put your emotions in the emotional category instead of ‘this is all me,' and that’s something that I will most likely always have with me," said Nitzel.

“I think for every youth it’s different. But the one underlying thing that I think we all hope is that they take away some sort of skill, some sort of something that they take that pays dividends in their life for years to come," said Operations Manager Curtis Wilson.

While The Bike Union partially relies on donations and grants from the community, Wilson said each purchase in the shop helps the organization thrive.

"Whether you buy a cup of coffee, get your bike tuned up, whatever it might be, 100% of that goes back in to support the programming that we’re doing," said Wilson.

Wilson added that The Bike Union provides support for a demographic that is often overlooked — support that's made all the difference for youth like Nitzel.

"I just want it to flourish and grow. Because obviously, I mean, it’s changed my life for the better and I know it can change other people’s," said Nitzel.

Five youth who have either been impacted by the foster care system or are aging out are hired on at The Bike Union for approximately one year.

The shop is located at 18th and Dodge Street.

Visit The Bike Union's website for more information.

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