The basics: Rodney Rodriguez, 45, is a semi-truck driver. He is married to Dawn McAndrews-Rodriguez, and they have five children.
What he does: Rodriguez is founder of Fresno Skateboard Salvage, formerly Fresno Board Rescue, an organization that provides high-quality skateboards, pads and helmets to young riders in the Fresno area. Rodriguez collects financial donations as well as contributions of used skating equipment to build the boards he gives away.
Why he does it: When he was growing up in Calwa, skateboarding was one of the few outlets Rodriguez had that kept him out of trouble. “But sometimes when kids get an inexpensive board, it can be discouraging because it’s slow, sluggish and does not respond very well,” he said. “They may give up, and if they have no other interests, they may transfer that energy into negative behaviors.”
The turning point: Rodriguez, who skates every weekend with other 40- and 50-year-olds, complimented a fellow skater’s new board and the skater gave it to him. Rodriguez was surprised, especially since his own board was nearly new. But it also made him realize that many of his skating buddies had lots of spare boards, so he asked them for their old boards and equipment and they gladly shared. After that, skateboard salvage was born.
Details, details: To date, Rodriguez has given away nearly 60 skateboards. He visits local skate parks and identifies skaters who could use a better board. He also relies on friends, other skaters and teachers for leads on who may benefit. “It has been a great experience. I get a lot of handshakes. One kid wept, and parents have been really appreciative.”
What others say: “Skateboarding has been such a wonderful and positive thing in my life, and for Rodney to share his passion for skating with young people is an amazing thing,” said John Poulos, owner of Plain Skateboard Company, and a donor to Fresno Skateboard Salvage. “And I have been happy to help in whatever way I can.”
How you can help: You can contact Rodriguez at email@example.com or check out his Facebook page at Fresno Skateboard Salvage. You can drop off a board donation at Yoshi Now, 648 Broadway St., Fresno, or Shredworthy, 1302 N Wishon Ave., Fresno. If you are unsure about whether your board or equipment is usable, contact Rodriguez via email.