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Dec. 9, 2019

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A fresh spin on helping the homeless

Brothers plan 2,448-mile cycling trip to raise money for Open House Ministries

By , Columbian staff writer
Published: August 13, 2019, 6:00am
6 Photos
Brothers Mark Roskam, left, and Mike Roskam perform maintenance on Mark’s bike at Wheel Deals Bicycles on Monday. The two plan to ride Route 66 starting next month for a fundraiser. Nathan Howard/The Columbian
Brothers Mark Roskam, left, and Mike Roskam perform maintenance on Mark’s bike at Wheel Deals Bicycles on Monday. The two plan to ride Route 66 starting next month for a fundraiser. Nathan Howard/The Columbian Photo Gallery

A Vancouver chaplain and his brother plan to cycle 2,448 miles to help break the cycle of homelessness.

“Somebody has got to step up, and I put it on our adults all the time — that it’s up to them to break the cycle,” said Mark Roskam, chaplain at Open House Ministries. “We believe in what we are doing, so that makes it easy to bicycle across the country.”

He and his brother, Mike Roskam, are planning to bike from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif., via Route 66. The two hope to leave on Sept. 4, finish by Oct. 11 and raise $66,000.

“Mark and I log a lot of miles around Clark County and we see a lot of homeless situations,” Mike Roskam said. They both talked about homelessness often being a generational issue.

Mark Roskam said that he has been involved in cycling all of his life. His brother took up cycling after giving up golf because he was not good at it. He said that cycling gives him everything he is looking for – time to be active outdoors. “Mike brought the idea to me, and it seems like it was almost an instant yes.”

The brothers plan to travel 80 miles a day, six days a week, with their wives leading the way in a 28-foot Winnebago. The two families will spend 31 nights on the road.

“They’ll keep the food just beyond our reach so we have to finish,” Mark Roskam said. “I think we’ll sleep well.”

Donations for the trip can be made by lump sum or per-mile. The easiest way to donate is through the website https://www.sheltered.org/upcoming-events/ or by calling Leslie Cook at 360-737-0300. Mark Roskam said that every penny donated will go directly to Open House Ministries. He emphasized that none of the donations will go toward paying for the trip that the brothers estimate will cost $10,000.

Mark Roskam said that Open House Ministries has always been approved to house up to 46 families, but in the past many of the rooms had to be used for offices. Then in October, the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Resource Center opened. The resource center now houses all the offices along with a gymnasium, making room for more families.

“We have a lot more square footage and we’re grateful, but it takes a great effort to be able to keep up with,” Mark Roskam said.

“We have more kids than adults,” he said. Some of the money from this fundraiser will go to staffing programs in the gymnasium to work with the kids. Most of the money will go to keeping existing programs going.

The faith-based organization has been open since 1986. It allows families without homes to stay for up to one year rent-free. Mark Roskam said the ministry works closely with the adults in hopes that they will be able to break the cycle of homelessness.

Two years ago Mike Roskam completed a 4,200-mile cycling trip. It was also a fundraising effort. It raised $170,000. “So Mark and I feel pretty confident that we can reach our goal of $66,000,” he said.

Mark said that he is looking forward to the trip. Work has been busy, and the first thing to go is down time. Having time alone to think and pray is how he recharges, he said, and he is looking forward to spending time with family and raising money for Open House. It’s a “win-win-win,” he said.

The downside?

“Being away from the shelter for five weeks is going to be hard,” Mark Roskam said. “Lives are dynamic, and they’re all going on while I’m gone. It’ll be hard to be gone. It’ll be good to be gone.”

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