The new year is already starting off on a positive note for Kailua-Kona’s Franz Weber — a sports enthusiast, community advocate, and avid cyclist who averages 9,500 miles a year on his bicycle.
His successful Paying It Forward West Hawaii nonprofit — an organization designed to provide a platform to help raise funds and have it readily available to offer immediate assistance to any child in need, regardless of the situation — turned a year this month, and Weber also finds himself as the new president of the popular Hawaii Cycling Club (HCC).
“I’ve been on the board for awhile and positions have been rotated between the board members over the years, so I think it was a more natural choice that it was my time to step up,” said the 66-year old. “I’ve been vice president for awhile and I think I’ve been on the board for maybe four years now, but I’ve been a member with HCC for quite some time.”
Weber added the next event on the HCC calendar is the Prologue on Feb. 13 — a 10-mile individual time trial and the oldest HCC event. Registration opened last week Wednesday and nearly all 40 slots were filled within two days.
“We will be putting on both in-real time (in-person events) as well as virtual so people can choose between what they want to do and what they feel comfortable with,” he said. “We just set up the Prologue and decided to limit it to 50 people (40 in-person competitors and 10 volunteers) with regard to social distancing, and it filled up within a couple of days.
“It shows that we have a high interest for in-person events and people are willing to do it despite having to wear masks, respect social distancing, taking their temperature — all of these things don’t seem to deter people from wanting to do a live event.”
Along with being the new HCC president and having his Paying It Forward West Hawaii turning a year this month, Weber was excited to share news of more progress toward helping those in need through his partnerships with three organizations: Kailua-Kona Lions Club, Tutor Tech LLC, and German nonprofit, TransFAIRiert eV.
Student workstations — Kailua-Kona Lions Club
Last November, Weber said Bob Roseler from the Kailua-Kona Lions Club approached him with an idea to build workstations for children ages six to ten years.
“Bob said a lot of them are doing online schooling at home and there’s really no good furniture available for these kids at home,” Weber said. “Most of them are doing school on a makeshift living room desk or in the kitchen, so there are no small furniture workspaces that are easily available for these kids. I immediately told him no problem and offered my help.”
Weber said Roseler immediately built a few workstations, but at that time, there didn’t seem to be much interest.
“I thought that I would start it again, so I put it on Facebook on Thursday saying we got these desks available for free just let me know, and by Friday morning, I had 30 people who responded wanting a workstation for their kids,” he said. “By Friday evening, I received 45 requests and on Saturday, it was up to 63. So, I immediately went back to Bob and gave him $1300 from my Paying It Forward nonprofit to build fifty work stations, and they are going to try to build them out as quick as possible.”
Material expense for each desk is $26 plus the cost of the hardware. Weber said the Kailua-Kona Lions Club will be paying for the hardware while Paying it Forward will donate $26 for the cost of the wood for 50 desks, a total of $1,300. Being that there are more than fifty requests for workstations, Paying It Forward will donate whatever more is needed.
“I’ve also approached Lowes as that is where I am buying most of the wood from, to see if they are willing to provide an additional discount or maybe if they have some rejected or short pieces of wood that we can use,” he said. “But right now, if there is a child in need of a workstation, I would encourage the family to reach out.”
Tutor Tech LLC – Brian Hogg
Weber explained that Brian Hogg repairs used appliances and sells them. Last November he told Weber he wanted to use those funds for tutoring kids through his company, Tutor Tech LLC.
“Brian believes that tutoring especially in technology is really crucial because that is the future and that is what we are lacking here in Hawaii,” Weber said. “Kids are struggling with a lack of technology knowledge and now with kids having remote schooling, Brian believes there is more of a need. So, he decided that he will sell his used appliances, then give Paying It Forward the money to find child recipients so that more tutoring can be done for these kids. Currently, Brian has raised $2400.”
Weber added that Hogg has already given his non-profit $400 that he intends to use toward an adult who wants to tutor about eight kids after school.
“Otherwise, the goal is if an adult wants to tutor and needs to be paid, or if a child needs tutoring but can’t afford it, there are funds available. They just need to reach out and help is here.”
TransFAIRiert eV, German nonprofit — Frank Wechsel, Tri Magazine
Frank Wechsel, who is the head publisher of Tri Magazine in Germany, set up a non-profit in Germany last year with the sole purpose to find sponsors to support Big Island families in need after interviewing Weber twice on his podcast.
“I used to drive him on the back of my motorcycle ten years ago during the Hawaii Ironman World Championships as he was a photographer and that’s how we began our friendship,” Weber said. “I got invited twice to talk on his podcast about what I was doing in Kona with my non-profit, Paying It Forward. So, he set up his own non-profit in Germany with the sole purpose to find sponsors to support families in need.
“Recently, he was able to secure three sponsors who are motivated to help families with young children who are in need of long-term financial support. So right now, I am trying to find families who are interested in getting in contact with these German sponsors who are willing to help them.”
When asked what drives his motivation to continue to help families in need, Weber, who keeps himself active by riding his tri-bike four times per week averaging 150 miles, was quick to respond.
“I think that it’s worthwhile that I’m living. It’s encouraging, it’s invigorating, it makes one look at the whole world in a positive light. It’s a positive drive and it really increases your positive energy to know there’s so much support, so many people who want to help others even without knowing them, and that’s been really good to see it happening everywhere.
“I’m not doing this for any recognition, but I want to help facilitate — be the liaison so to speak — in getting those who are in need with the right people to bring them together.”
For more information of Weber’s Paying It Forward West Hawaii nonprofit visit his website at https://fim20209.wixsite.com/pif-wh. If you would like more information on how to obtain free student workstations from the Kailua-Kona Lions Club, financial assistance for a child in need of tutoring, or are a family in need of financial support, email Franz Weber at FIM2020@outlook.com.