I met 26-year old Jeremy Hopwood at the Jefferson Park Jubilee last weekend. While standing in line at one of the many vendors, he thoughtfully opened a bottle of water for me and we started talking. “Want to see my van?” he tentatively offered. Every bit as tentatively, I said, “Hmmmm.” We were enjoying a beautiful celebration of a beautiful new park. After a few sunny moments and realizing we were in a very public space, I decided – what the heck – and off we went.
Out of his 1986 Chevy van, Jeremy runs the Caravan mobile skate shop, a volunteer endeavor that serves Seattle-area skateboarders. Jeremy – who has a paying job elsewhere – drives to skate parks and other places where skateboarders gather and fixes their skateboards. Free. He also teaches them how to fix their own equipment, teaches newcomers how to skate, and accepts donated shoes and gently used skate equipment that he redistributes to those who need them. He works with kids of any age, but most of them fall between age 10 and 16.
I peeked inside his customized van, complete with a counter to grip and assemble boards, a work and display space, and a couple of teenagers who were also volunteering their time. Jeremy told me loves doing what he does as a volunteer; he has no plans to make this into a money maker. He’s loved skateboarding for 14 years, and wants to give back to the skateboarding community.
“Basically I just came up with the idea for a mobile skate shop, and then I realized it was more rewarding and fun to make it something I gave away,” Jeremy said. “I’ve said from the beginning, as long as I get to work with skateboarding, I don’t care if I make money.”
Jeremy is working now with local companies Bandwagon Clothing and The Foundry, skate clothing and supply shops, who have donated products that Jeremy can add to competition raffles.
He has big dreams for Skate Caravan. He wants to connect with Youth Employment Skateboarding and Skate Like a Girl and Skate for Change to see if Caravan can partner with those organizations, which are dedicated to fostering leadership and employment training, and helping low income people and the homeless, respectively.
Other organizations he’s interested in include Stronghold Society and Skateboardia (Skatebordia is a Skateboard Instructor’s Association, which provides professional certification, and Stronghold’s mission is “to inspire confidence, creativity, hope, and ambition for the youth of native and non-native communities. We want to encourage youth to take action to live a healthy life in mind, body, and spirit through the diverse means of skateboarding, arts, and creative movements.”
Meeting generous and optimistic young people like Jeremy at Parks events makes my day. It makes me happy that yes, the kids really are all right. They have the spirit of service and volunteerism, they’re helping each other out and thinking about how to make a better world, in ways I applaud and greatly appreciate.
Thanks to our Seattle Parks which allowed that kind of creativity to happen at Jefferson Park last weekend.
Here’s to you, Jeremy.