Veterans from MVH Machias received a boost to their activities fund last week from Washington County bikers. Seven members of Washington County United Bikers of Maine visited the home Aug. 31 to make a $3,500 donation to the residents’ activities fund. The visitors included Aubrey “Skip” Carter of Machias, Rod Kawashima of Machiasport, Kenton Feeney of Beals, Clifford Johnson Jr., of Jonesport, Clifford Johnson III of Addison, Richard Alley of Addison and Ike Hubbard of Jonesport.
The presentation took place outside, with virtually all of the residents and several staff people gathered around. The bikers invited residents to check out their bikes, which they did with enthusiasm. Resident Hortense Hutchins kept talking about Alley’s purple motorcycle and eagerly posed for several photos with it.
“Our primary event is this presentation to the veterans’ activity fund,” said Kawashima, director of the Washington County bikers. “We really enjoy doing this, and feel more attention should be made to the veterans.”
Each county chapter of United Bikers of Maine has its own individual fundraisers, ranging from a St. Patrick’s Day dance in Penobscot County to a belt sander race in Sagadahoc. Just as they are highly individual, each county also decides where the money goes. A toy run is the statewide event, where all join in, and the 35th Annual Toy Run will occur on Sept. 11, taking off from Augusta.
“Every county rider brings one or more toys,” said Kawashima. “Then the toys are all picked up and divvied up. We use [Washington Hancock Community Agency], so they give our shares to Washington and Hancock counties, and also to the Indian nations. This is the primary state event, and we have a lot of participation.”
UBM is an organization dedicated to all motorcyclists tied together by one common thread — their love of riding motorcycles.
“That says it all,” said Kawashima, who has headed the county chapter for the past two years. He said he wishes he could engender more interest in the group.
“I try to encourage them to come to meetings and talk,” he said. “We used to go all over, but there’s not enough interest in Milbridge any more, or Calais.”
Presently Washington County UBM meets the second Monday of each month at Pat’s Pizza in Machias.
“Generally we have anywhere from six to 10 members,” he said, “but we’d like to have more.”
The numbers fluctuate widely from one month to another. According to the minutes of Aug. 24, UBM had 2,289 active members statewide, with another 1,162 expired memberships. A single membership to UBM costs $20, with a family rate of $25. August members in Washington County numbered 66 active, with 39 expired. “Not bad percentage-wise, but a lot lower even than last year,” said Kawashima.
Any discussion of motorcycles eventually brings up the subject of helmets. UBM does not advocate riding without a helmet, but only notes that a person has the right to make that decision for himself or herself. Kawashima, who joined UBM after retiring from the military, said support for the veterans’ activities fund started with a ride.
“Some who couldn’t come donated,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for the last few years. It’s spreading.”
Several residents of the veterans’ home attended an Aug. 13 lunch at Ephraim Johnson Post 9. An auction afterward raised money for the veterans’ activities fund.
“The emphasis is on the volunteers who make this happen each year,” he said. “We really thank the legionnaires, and the auxiliary. Just so many volunteers work very hard to make it happen.”
This year’s event raised more than twice as much as last year, when the bikers raised about $1,700.