By Katy Rogers
Alyssa Oliva spent the summer volunteering with the Everett Community Growers, picking vegetables along the Northern Strand Community Farm and dedicating her summer to helping grow food for less fortunate families who rely on the Food Pantry.
Two weeks ago, while volunteering, the 14-year-old locked her bike on a nearby bike rack, about 100 feet away from the garden, thinking she was taking proper precautions to keep it safe. It’s something that organizers and volunteers do frequently without a second thought.
However, on that day, when the evening activities concluded, Oliva and her friends from the garden realized her bike was gone, the lock cut.
Oliva had been saving money for the bike last Spring, but upon completing eighth grade, she received high honors and several academic awards, making her parents proud.
“She saved all her money for the bike, she made all honors at the end of the year, and received more awards than any of the other students in her class,” her father, Vinnie Oliva beamed. “I told her I was going to get her the bike as a reward for her hard work.”
Oliva used her new bike all summer as transportation to and from the community garden, and anticipated using it to get to school, as she looked forward to becoming a freshman at Everett High School (EHS) this year.
Needless to say, as Oliva looked upon the cut lock and the empty bike rack, she was disappointed and crushed.
“Alyssa, it’s not your fault, some people are just jerks,” her father said he kept telling her, as Alyssa felt guilty for losing the bike, even though she did nothing wrong.
Eleanor Gayhart, education and outreach coordinator for Everett Community Growers, was extremely upset when she found out the bike was stolen as well.
“No child should have to go through that, especially one who is volunteering,” she said, sharing that she lost sleep over the matter. “Alyssa was just picking vegetables for a local food pantry.”
As word spread that Oliva’s bike was stolen from the Northern Strand Community Farm, many found it unsettling, including the The Enforcers, a motorcycling club that includes active and retired police officers, veterans, and their friends.
The Enforcers decided to take it upon themselves to protect the children’s bikes during the following week’s meet up, sending a clear message to whomever had tampered with the lock.
Beyond that, the story traveled to Angelo La Civita, candidate for Middlesex County Sheriff, who wanted to make sure Alyssa was given a new bike, and took it upon himself to make that happen.
La Civita was embarrassed when he heard the story was going to be in the paper, explaining that there were no political motives in donating the bike, but the story resonated with him, having an eight-year-old daughter at home.
Unsuspectingly, Oliva attended the Community Growers meet up on Tuesday evening, Aug. 30, as usual. The only difference being The Enforcers were there, keeping an eye out on the bike rack. When the kids gathered for what they thought was a group photo, La Civita opened the trunk of his car, unveiling a brand new bicycle (and lock) for Oliva.
Speechless, Oliva covered her mouth, eyes watering, overwhelmed with emotion, while her peers embraced her.
The Enforcers Motorcycle Club gave her an additional keepsake, a small cherub to add to her handlebars for good luck. The cherub is a charm similar to the ones the bikers have on their own motorcycles.
The rest of the children, were given ice cream to celebrate.
Being part of the Everett Community Growers was one experience for Alyssa Oliva this summer, but the real sense of community came from the generous and caring residents who helped pay it forward when she needed some cheering up.
Alyssa Oliva is a volunteer at the Northern Strand Community Garden, where she picks vegetables for a local food pantry. Two weeks ago, her bike was stolen while she was busy volunteering.
The Enforcers took it upon themselves to guard the bikes, proving a point to whomever may have tampered with them the week prior, stealing one little girl’s hard-earned bicycle. Pictured are “Silverback”, Anthony Rossetti, Vinnie Oliva (Alyssa’s dad), Angelo La Civita (candidate for Middlesex County Sheriff), and Mark Gayhart.
Angelo La Civita (right) expressed his disappointment in the fact that Alyssa’s bike was stolen the previous week.
Alyssa Oliva was in tears when she found out she was being given a new bike to replace the one that had been stolen.
Angelo La Civita presents Alyssa Oliva a brand new bike, with a new lock.
Mark Gayhart of The Enforcers Motorcycle Club comforted Alyssa Oliva, as she was overwhelmed with emotion when learning the new bike was for her.
The Enforcers gave Oliva a Cherub to put on her own bike, a charm to keep it safe, like the ones they use on their own motorcycles.
A wrong made right, Alyssa Oliva shows off her new bike last Tuesday, Aug. 30.