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Foreign workers ride donated bicycles in Bolton Landing

BOLTON LANDING Parked behind the Lakeside Restaurant next to the kitchen door, a collection of decade-old bicycles lean on their kick-stands. Visit dozens of restaurants and other businesses throughout the Bolton Landing business district and youll find similar clusters of older bicycles near enterprises back entrances. Donated by a low-profile group of local benefactors, these bicycles are providing young foreign laborers a large part of the local summer work force mobility they need to get to and from their various jobs. Due to the efforts of Richard and Judy Sammis in concert with the parishioners of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, the bikes are furnished free of charge to foreign workers. Richard Sammis said this week he and his wife Judy have amassed 75 bicycles that are currently in working condition and loaned out for use. The bicycles are primarily donated by local citizens, and the cost of upkeep is funded by monetary donations collected by Blessed Sacrament he said. My job is to keep them ready for use and get them out to the kids, Sammis said. John Herzog of the Student Connection in Lake George estimated that 165 foreign students are working this summer in in the greater Lake George area. Sammis said that the free bicycle offer to foreign workers is in its fourth season, originally starting with only a few two-wheelers. The concept arose when several foreign laborers, who were summer parishioners of Blessed Sacrament, inquired about the availability of bicycles to get to work and travel around town, he said. These kids cant buy a car, Sammis said. They have no way to get to work. Sammis said that the concept of providing two-wheel transportation for temporary workers is not unique, but its unusual for them to be offered at no charge. In some other communities that rely heavily on foreign labor to fill tourism-related jobs, he said, agencies rent out bicycles to workers for a fee. These workers do our community a service, so we are just returning the favor, he said. Konrad Pikulski, a 23-year-old Polish college student who works at the Sagamore and the Lakeside Restaurant, said he puts his bicycle to good use, and hes thankful to those who are providing it. Walking to the Sagamore Resort from his apartment takes 15 to 20 minutes, but on his donated bike he can travel the same distance in five, he said. The bicycle is the reason I get to work, but it also allows me to travel a little bit around here too, he said. It makes doing anything so much easier. Sammis explained that in a community like Bolton with very limited public transportation, the public must provide such a vital work force some means of getting around. This concept has environmental, economic and cultural benefits, he said. It makes sense in cutting emissions, saves the workers many hundreds of dollars each, and allows them to have more social interaction with people in the community, he said. Polish student and Sagamore employee David Lukajczyk agreed that bicycles make sense ecologically as well as providing mobility necessary for foreign workers to hold down one or more jobs. The Blessed Sacrament bicycle program is widely known among those in the foreign community, Lukajczyk said. My bike saves me 20 minutes a day, Lukajczyk said. Sammis said that the foreign workers may keep the bicycles for as long as they are needed. I just ask that the bikes get returned sometime before the kids leave, he said. We have had very few come up missing. Bolton Landing Town Supervisor Kathleen Simmes said Thursday that the foreign labor is essential to local commerce. Their ability to get around more efficiently than in the past has become a big help for the businesses in Bolton Landing, she said. All our local kids work, and there are always still openings, she said. The local businesses need the foreign students. Sammis said that he especially appreciates having the opportunity to meet and interact with people from such a diverse set of cultures. These kids come from all over eastern Europe and the Caribbean, he said. Every time I meet one of them, its a cultural exchange.

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