By Eli Pacheco 

For people without access to reliable transportation, a bike is more than a way to exercise – it’s a way of getting to work and appointments, a means of visiting loved ones.  

Buying a bike can be expensive. A new bike costs hundreds of dollars, if not thousands of dollars. 

In Tampa, Florida, Bikes from the Heart, a new ministry of Sacred Heart Parish, offers free bikes to people from all walks of life.  

Founded one year ago by Tim Eves, and Tom Henry, Bikes from the Heart delivered 10 bikes in its first run. Hundreds of bikes and changed lives later, they are expanding at peloton speeds and enhancing lives for the homeless and working poor in their community. They are projected to deliver 1,500 bikes in 2024. 



Supplying bikes for people who need them 

“Investing time to get them into the hands of the end users is where we are focused,” said Tom, who advocates on behalf of the homeless. 

Candidates who are interested in receiving a bike must fill out an application. Bikes from the Heart tags each bicycle with a tracking code to help prevent them from being sold or used for nefarious endeavors. 

A bike can help a person accept a job and establish employment, which can lead to even more opportunities. Sometimes, though, the reason for wanting a bike is simple. 

“We had one recipient just last week who, when we asked why he wanted a bike, said, ‘I’m just tired of walking everywhere I go,’” Tom said. “‘I need a bike!’ So, we said, ‘Okay!’” 

Growing at an incredible rate 

Tim and Tom were looking for something to do in retirement when the idea for Bikes from the Heart came to them. They began with two portable stands and two volunteers. 

"It took the two of us two weeks to get those bikes together,” said Tim, a bike aficionado and Sacred Heart parishioner. “Word of our ministry got out. Folks showed up and wanted to help.” 

The ministry needed room to work, so the friars offered a room in the former convent. 

“Tim said they needed a small space,” said Br. Mike. “We gave them a room at the old north campus convent. Before you knew it, they were using the whole first floor.” 

The support from parishioners and the community has been incredible. Many people now have the freedom to ride thanks to a ministry that has seen incredible growth. And, the community has noticed: Tampa Downtown Partnership awarded Bikes from the Heart a Downtown Collaboration Award, recognizing its unique, positive contribution to the community. 

“We’ve experienced an explosion in this ministry,” said Tim. “I don’t see it slowing down.” 

Transforming lives through community support 

What Tim and Tom sought to address on a small scale has received regional acclaim, but more importantly, funding.  

The Diocese of St. Petersburg awarded Bikes from the Heart a $5,000 grant at the start. Today, Bikes from the Heart receives support from Catholic Charities, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Faith Cafe, The Portico, and more. 

Support from Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioners and legions of volunteers who help pick up, repair, and deliver bikes has helped Bikes from the Heart make a profound difference in the community it loves. 

Franciscan friars have been a part of the Sacred Heart community since 2004. Currently, three friars – Brothers Mike Jones, OFM, Zack Elliott, OFM, and Steve Kluge, OFM – serve at Sacred Heart.  

Brothers George Corrigan, OFM, Barry Langley, OFM, Sean O’Brien, OFM, and Andrew Rietz, OFM, are among those who have also “breathed life into our parish,” as Tim puts it. 

Even as volunteers pour in and donated bikes are racked up and ready to roll, Tom said there is one absence he prays will be filled. 

“We’d love to get some more brown robes in here,” he said. 

Br. Mike understands. He has helped meet the needs of Tim’s and Tom’s ministry and knows the impact of the Franciscans’ support. 

"Every ministry would like more friars,” Br. Mike said. “It’s not the friar’s initiative, it’s going with them to help on their journey. It is in promoting a ministry, and part of our leadership overall, and we’re doing it with the parishioners.” 

Friars and parishioners are helping to expand Bikes from the Heart past the confines of Tampa, perhaps.    

“I don’t know what’s next,” Br. Mike said. “It’s going to be interesting. Tim and Tom are full of energy and ideas. Neither one is the type to just sit at home. They’re doing good work.”’