Twenty-five cyclists biking from Maine to New York City made a detour in Suffolk County on Sunday to help build two homes in Mastic Beach.
Over the course of three weeks, cyclists will travel 880 miles, beginning in Bar Harbor, Maine, and finishing their tour in Manhattan on Saturday, assisting in affordable housing construction along the way.
The cyclists, ages 18 through 26, are all part of Coastal Drift, a program run through national nonprofit, Bike & Build. Before setting off on their ride, participants must raise at least $2,400 in donations, some of which will be distributed to affordable housing nonprofits across the country, according to the program’s website.
After biking from the Orient Point Ferry terminal to Riverhead Saturday, the volunteers spent Sunday working on two Habitat for Humanity Homes in Mastic Beach. Half the group donned hard hats and nailed vinyl siding onto a three-bedroom home on Mastic Beach Road. The others installed siding on a four-bedroom home on Mastic Boulevard, which when completed will belong to a single mother of two, according to Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk’s site supervisor, Ryan Parsons.
Liza Freed, 24, of Brooklyn, initially was interested in the Coastal Drift program because she wanted to see the country by bike but was also excited to support affordable housing projects.
“It’s amazing we get the chance to learn some new skills and know that people are benefiting from this,” Freed said.
A house on Mastic Beach Boulevard had been long vacant and fallen into a state of disrepair, Parsons said. It was demolished, the land was donated by the town and construction of the new 1,600-square-foot home began in the spring.
It takes about 10 months and dozens of volunteers to build a Habitat for Humanity home in Suffolk County, Parsons said.
“It’s always such a positive experience getting volunteers on site,” Parsons said. “We’re all working toward a cause and they get to learn a skill set for a day.”
The group is looking forward to touring the East End, Freed said. They were to spend the night in Aquebogue and on Monday will cycle to Montauk. On Monday, they’ll take the Orient Point Ferry to Connecticut and will assist in the construction of affordable housing in New Haven Tuesday.
“It’s been great so far, being able to meet and help build in different communities,” said one of the cyclists, Aly Sikora, 25, of Syracuse.