On Sunday morning at 6 a.m., Bobby Miller will get on his bike in front of the Veteran’s Memorial Building on Center Street, and set off on a ride. He’ll head first to the Carquinez Bridge, then to Napa, before turning to Lake Berryessa and ending up in Davis. On Monday, he’ll retrace his route back to Berkeley, for a total of 216 miles in two days.
Miller, the 67-year old executive director of Options Recovery Services, isn’t riding just for the challenge. His journey is an ambitious $25,000 fundraising ride for his organization, which treats around 800 people a year for addiction. In Miller’s words, Options offers its services to “the most treatment-resistant people out there”.
Options is based in the cavernous former auditorium of the Veteran’s Memorial Building. In the morning, men, many homeless, come for the three-hour program. There’s a steady hum of activity and staff clearly have to juggle many demands on their time.
Miller retired from the Berkeley Police Department as captain, but rather than putting his feet up, he turned his energies to Options. The program, started by Dr. Davida Coady ten years ago, treats around 150 people at a time for drug and alcohol addiction. Its stated mission is “to break the cycle of addiction that causes crime, homelessness and broken families”. Options receives funding from the City of Berkeley, a number of Alameda County agencies and from numerous foundations and local supporters. But funding is being squeezed.
“Everything is down,” said Miller, “except for numbers of clients. We’re seeing more people who just a year ago were doing well. They’ve lost their jobs and have dropped to the bottom of the barrel.”
Miller’s Ride for Recovery on Sunday and Monday is aimed to patch some of his organization’s budget gap. He’s confident that he will complete the ride in style, having done the BPD’s Turkey ride to South Lake Tahoe for 20 years. He’s designed his route to provide plenty of hilly challenges, as well as the daunting distance.
“I want to make it difficult because we’re in difficult times,” Miller said. “Nothing is easy.”
Tax-deductible donations to Miller’s Ride for Recovery can be made on the Options website or you can call Options for more information on 666-9552. A donation of 10 cents per mile would be $21.60; $1.50 per mile would provide $324.