ToolBank adds power to community efforts

Community building takes time, energy, and, sometimes, power tools.

“Having the right tools is the biggest barrier for non-profits and schools to do community-building work,” says Joe Hansbauer, a veteran of Give Back Cincinnati and now UGive executive director.

He has participated and led many clean-up/fix-up efforts and knew of stores of tools warehoused by Give Back Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Parks and other local groups.

“At Give Back Cincinnati, we wash every paint brush,” says Hansbauer, a fan of conserving funds and resources at the same time. “Tools have great longevity.”

He wondered how the equipment, out of commission for most days of the year, could be available to schools, non-profits, neighborhood business associations and even neighbors who wanted to host a street-clean up.

A chance mention at the end of a business meeting led him to contact ToolBank, an Atlanta-based non-profit designed to meet the same community needs. ToolBank inventories tools and allows volunteers minimal-cost access to a wide range of them, from cordless drills and ladders to rakes, shovels and circular saws.

Hansbauer’s timing was perfect. As he gathered local business and financial support, ToolBank started adding affiliate programs – one in Charlotte, one in Baltimore, and, starting next year, one in Cincinnati.  ToolBank offers the infrastructure to manage tool storage and distribution, as well as non-profit status.

Preliminary financial support from UPS, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Ethicon and Toyota already amounts to more than $100,000. Once the local ToolBank board of directors, including Hansbauer, raises $125,000,  they can begin a search for an executive director.

By Elissa Yancey
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