Achayo Katanga, 11, says the Community Bicycle Center (CBC) in Biddeford, a MaineCF grantee, is where she can learn new things and be herself. Photo: Thalassa Raasch, MaineCF

Tells us about yourself and your life.

My name is Achayo. Achayo is what my mom gave me, Molly is my American name if people can’t say Achayo. I am 11. I go to Biddeford Middle School but live in Saco now. I am in a play called The Lion King and I am Mufasa. I like learning and eating new things. I have a big family, 11 people, which is really nice because they help me out a lot! I am the seventh kid in my family. Six boys and five girls counting me. I go to the CBC which is a great place to be at because you can be yourself there and be calm, and they care about you.

How did you discover the CBC and how long have you been a member?

Three or four years ago, my friend who knew the old CBC, walked me over to it, but it was closed. There was a sign that said “CBC moved to new place.” The next day my friend was like, “Oh I found the new place,” and we went there. I went back the next day after that and did homework and art. I met a kid named Ashton, and some other people.

I started coming back almost every day, because everyone there was so nice and they taught me new things all the time. And made me engaged to everything I did – bike rides, and other things that could help me with life. With everyone there, they would help you immediately and they would just be there even when things got hard. I don’t think they are going anywhere. It’s just really nice.

What do you like most about CBC? What are your favorite things to do there?

The thing I like most about the CBC is the people. You meet new people all the time who teach you new things. I even starting bringing my brothers, and they really like it too, so I was like “Alright, I guess we can share the place – I found it first but I guess you can come too.” My brother Daniel started working there at Kids Bike Factory and has fun too. I usually take care of him, and he takes care of me, and the CBC people take care of us. It’s pretty cool.

My favorite thing is playing [the card game] UNO – it’s just fun. I like how you can do art at the CBC – make messes like you would never be able to do at home. And build bikes too. It is just so much fun.

What is your most memorable moment since you’ve been at the CBC?

My first bike ride. I rode a tandem bike and I was like, how does this work?! It was just really fun being on a bike with someone and how the wind blew in our hair and you could talk to someone when you’re riding and can have a conversation and learn about each other. It was really fun.

If you could tell other people why they should visit or volunteer at the CBC, what would you say?

I would say: come to the CBC, it’s really fun. They don’t care about your religion, or language, or skin color – they just care about YOU and just want you to come and learn new things with other people. They teach you new things every day! I have learned a lot. It’s really fun. And believe me, once you go there one day, you will want to go back. They have snacks and they take care of you. They have fun like every second. You can talk to nice people, eat snacks, go on a long bike ride, join a parade, go in the woods and no matter what they will just invite you back. I love that place. I love the CBC.

How has the CBC changed your life so far?

The CBC has changed my life because they helped us find a new house when we were getting kicked out of our old one. The CBC has changed my life by helping me with my homework so I don’t fall behind. It’s very educational and they invite people back no matter what.

The CBC has changed my life by helping to introduce me to new people who are nice. I made a bunch of new friends. I used to like to stay in the shadows but the CBC made me come out into the light and be myself. People at the CBC will be friends with you no matter what. They like to help you make new friends and teach you new things as your friend. There are always good people there who you can become friends with.

What would you like to be doing 10 years from now?

My plan is to do two things. Actually a lot of things. I want to maybe lead the CBC. I want to help out people who have no homes or maybe are homeless. Help them get a job and start a good life. I want to go to Broadway and be an actor because I love acting. I want to go to Juilliard.