Biking Brothers: Helping the homeless through cross-country fundraiser

Open House Ministries chaplain and brother will cycle over 2,400 miles to raise money for shelter

VANCOUVER — On Sept. 4, two brothers will journey across the nation, to return propelled by their own stamina; cycling over 2,400 miles. The purpose: to help put a stop to homelessness and give people hope. 

Open House Ministries Chaplain Mark Roskam, along with his brother Mike, will make the massive ride via Route 66, with the goal of raising $66,000 for the ministry. They hope to have by-the-mile pledges as well as lump-sum donations. 

“Every dollar we raise is going to the shelter, and it’s our dream to raise $66,000 for bicycling Route 66,” Mark said. “It’s not even allocated for a project, its allocated for continuing operations here and allowing us to do what we do, because it’s a noble work happening.” 

Together, Mark and Mike have decades of cycling experience, with Mike having completed a 4,200-mile ride from coast to coast in the mainland U.S. The plan is to drive to Chicago, which is the official start of Route 66, and ride down through the southern states, leveling off towards California, where Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica pier.

Biking Brothers: Helping the homeless through cross-country fundraiser
Open House Ministries Chaplain Mark Roskam (left) and his brother Mike, are seen here training for their bicycle trip across Route 66. Photo by Mike Schultz

Mark, who served as a pastor in Colorado for nearly 20 years, moved to Washington in 2010, to work as a case manager with Open House. Shortly thereafter, he stepped into the chaplaincy, and says it is exactly where his heart is.

“It’s a golden ticket if you get here and the golden ticket is that we help people find peace with God again,” Mark said. “Because most people through whatever has happened in their life, have crashed and burned and with it has gone their faith. So we really want people to find their faith and hope in God again, through Christ.”

Mike has lived in Clark County longer, and had stayed in touch with Mark before he moved to the area. When the two reconnected in person, they began bicycling together regularly.

In addition to being the chaplain for Open House, Mark also manages Wheel Deals bike shop on Open House’s campus. Mike is also a volunteer at the shop, which provides job skills to residents and supports the ministry with its proceeds.

Biking Brothers: Helping the homeless through cross-country fundraiser
Mike Roskam (left) and Wheel Deals volunteer Bob Orth, are shown here working on tuning Mike’s bike one last time before departing on his trip of 2,400 miles. Photo by Mike Schultz

“My objective there is just to be a mentor to the help they have,” Mike said. “As an employer for many, many years, I can I think I can help teach job skills and what’s an employer looking for, you know, what’s a good employee.” 

Mike runs a collection agency in Vancouver, and is in the process of retiring from the business. He often volunteers to teach the Financial Peace class at Open House, and mentor residents about healthy finance. He has also hired several graduates of Open House at his business. 

“Just seeing people, the light go on in people’s lives, when they say, ‘Oh, I can do this differently than the way [I was taught] or maybe they were never taught. It can be different,” he said.   

Open House operates entirely through donations and private funding as a faith-based organization combating homelessness in Clark County. At any given time, 40 families with children under the age of 18 live at the shelter for a year at a time; gaining work skills and reintegrating into society.

Twenty more families work with the organization at any given time, while living in the surrounding neighborhood after graduating the program. The ministry’s waiting list is also always full, with another 40 families in line for housing at the shelter.

Right now, Mark and Mike are training for their journey by cycling sometimes 60 miles a day, multiple times a week. When the real trek begins, they will average 80 miles every day, with one rest day a week.

Biking Brothers: Helping the homeless through cross-country fundraiser
Mike and Mark Roskam take a short breather while training for their cycling trip to raise money for Open House Ministries. Photo by Mike Schultz

The trip is expected to last from Sept. 4 through Oct. 11, totalling about five weeks or 30 days. All expenses for the trip are being absorbed by Mark and Mike, with all fundraised proceeds going to Open House.

“By us going out and exposing that message, we can address this poverty homeless situation, on an individual basis by changing one person at a time,” Mike said. “If we change a mother and a father, then we maybe changed their children for the next generation. It’s a longer term approach to the problems that our society is having, but it’s a permanent solution to the problem.” 

If you would like to partner with Mark, Mike and Open House Ministries, visit them online where you can pledge or give gifts, or send money to the shelter. To follow the brothers on their journey, look for a link to a special Facebook page on the Open House website.

Most important to Mark and Mike, however, is prayer. The brothers ask for prayer for the journey to be safe as well as for the ministry and those recovering in the program.   

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