All About Our Vets…

VEO Award

ATL ToolBank accepting a service award from long-term ToolBank member agency VEO!

As the original ToolBank, your local Atlanta Community ToolBank is proud to have essentially birthed its own parent nonprofit, ToolBank USA.  With a mission to replicate the tool lending model in the top 150 urban American hubs – ToolBank USA is planting a national powerhouse dedicated to wiping tool scarcity off the map!

This collective impact is transforming the way communities leverage volunteer labor and fostering a collaborative blueprint for sustainable self-efficiency. And, that impact touches every cause you care about. Check out how our network is actively working to serve those who gave all – our military veterans…

SPECIAL REPORT COURTESY OF TOOLBANK USA 

ToolBanks loaned out nearly a half million dollars’ worth of blue tools to organizations that engage veterans in a meaningful way. They include Veteran’s Empowerment Organization (VEO) in Atlanta,  The Mission Continues in Atlanta and Houston, The 6th Branch in Baltimore, Lone Star Veterans Organization in Houston, Team Rubicon with ToolBank Disaster Services, Purple Heart Homes in Charlotte, and Team Depot, which is active in nearly every ToolBank city.

IMG_0460

Dobbins Air Force Base puttin’ the blue tools to great use, revitalizing a historic cemetery.

Some of the agencies look to returning veterans as their source of volunteers, while others regard veterans as their clients. For most, it’s a mixture of both, assisting veterans in need and leveraging volunteerism as a healthful way for service men and women to transition back to civilian life. Ramps, home repairs, home retrofitting, and weatherization are among the most popular projects fueled by ToolBank tools in support of veterans. Tools are de rigueur to conduct these projects, and ToolBanks from coast to coast are proud to aid these organizations in their inspiring call of duty.

Want to keep even more volunteers working hard for us all? Click to Donate NOW!

Blue-Tooled 25…

Decatur Preservation Alliance 2016 MLK DayYour Atlanta Community ToolBank is officially saluting 25 YEARS of fabulous blue tool lending! And, we’re celebrating by making the first 25 of this New Year shine with service. Cheers to the dedicated volunteers making it happen across our state!

First 25 Of 2016:
175 Service Projects Completed
4,062 blue-tooled volunteers
16,428 hours of service given
Over $73,000 worth of ToolBank tools put to great use

Blue Tool Powered:
22 park and greenspace improvements
75 home and facility repairs 
1 historic cemetery gravestone installation (Clay Cemetery in Kirkwood – go check them out!)

Touching every cause you care about. It’s what your ATL ToolBank is all about!

Many thanks to the wonderful service partners putting the blue tools to great work this month:

Action Not Words Project Incorporated, The Lithonia City Farmers Market Construction, After School All Stars, Atlanta City Council: District 12, Blue Heron Nature Preserve, Captain Planet Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress, Change to Humanity, CHRIS Kids, Concrete Jungle, Covenant House Georgia, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, Georgia Conservancy, Good Shepherd Community Church, Grant Park Conservancy, HouseProud Atlanta, Kirkwood Neighbors Organization, Lifecycle Building Center, Panola Mt. State Park, Park Pride, Raising Expectations Inc., Trees Atlanta, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, West Atlanta Watershed, Youth Villages at Inner Harbour

Ready to keep even more service teams equipped for action?
Simply CLICK to DONATE NOW!

 

 

Tools Can Build…

A really big bridge!

We love to brag on the blue tools and all the great things our member agencies and their incredibly dedicated volunteers can do. For this posting, let’s hear it straight from the park’s mouth! Check out the fun as our pals from Park Pride review thier incredible adventure at Jennie Drake Park. **Recap totally stolen from http://www.facebook.com/parkpride.

Blue Can Build…

Value of tool borrowed: $19,479
Cost to charitable agency: $705.46 Yep, all this for only $705.46!
Tools utilized: power drills and saws, shovels and spades, weed wrenched and McLeod tools, wheelbarrows, measuring tapes, hammers, sledgehammers, tarps, trashgrabbers, generators, work gloves, socket sets, folding tables and more…

Amazing Feats Accomplished: 

On Thursday, October 29th, 150 volunteers from Bennett Thrasher descended on Jennie Drake Park in the northwest Atlanta neighborhood of Collier Heights.

Jennie Drake Park was an undeveloped park (aside from the beautiful park entrance that was dedicated in May of this year, and the City of Atlanta park sign). There were a number of branch lined paths that meandered through the wooded greenspace, and neighborhood children liked to jump back and forth between the banks of the small creek that runs through the center.

On this Bennett Thrasher workday, however, the park was transformed! Volunteers installed 2 bridges to cross the creek, 2 benches built and installed, cleared land and installed plantings and created a new cobblestone park entrance, build a stone switchback path leading into the park, created about 750 of trail through the park (about 1/2 a raised gravel trail and the other half a mulch trail), and planted almost 400 native plants … WHEW!

It was quite a day and so much was accomplished! We’re proud to have been part of such a great partnership.

Thank you Friends of Jennie Drake Park for your passion for this space and for inviting us out for a transformative day.

Thank you Bennett Thrasher for your enthusiasm for hard-work, community and parks!

And thank you Councilmember Felicia Moore for the role you played in bringing this park to fruition and joining us as we turn the dream into reality!

We look forward to our next workday with you both.

We all invite you out to Jennie Drake Park to enjoy this amazing greenspace!

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Real Tools Bringin’ Real Progress…

RiverwalkAtlanta

Better Together…

Great Friday of service as Youth Villages Americorps, Friends of Riverside Park and Park Pride put the blue tool magic to work transforming a former incinerator site on Atlanta’s West Side into a 100-acre park. OK, the vision was not completed in one work day. BUT… the plan is in motion and great progress abounds. Volunteers removed invasive overgrowth and construced new trails – all in preparation for the future Riverwalk Atlanta. This amazing park space is located close to the Chattahoochee River and will offer local residents and vistors alike ample opportunity to get active, enjoy nature or maybe even relax with a real book or two! Stay tuned for exciting updates.

Park Pride Atlanta, GAFriends in Service…

We love supporting local parks and working with the Park Pride team. And, special thanks to our photo “model” John, for always keeping the blue tools so organized! Nonprofits like Park Pride and all of their affiliated Friends of Parks teams are THE reason we can stay active, enjoy nature and gasp – maybe even crack open a real book under a balmy sky. This year alone, more than 1,000 volunteers have already put almost $50,000 worth of ‪#‎ATLToolBank‬ tools to work under the direction of dedicated coordinators like John. So, go enjoy those safe and pretty parks. And, when you get a chance, support a nonprofit fundraiser, high-five a volunteer and be sure to hug up on a nonprofit staffer. We can all make an impact, in our own unique way!

Ready to keep even more volunteers working hard for us all?
CLICK and Donate a buck to your Atlanta Community ToolBank today!

This Thursday, Celebrate Live!

GAGives2014Have you heard our state’s biggest day of charitable giving is this Thursday!? GA Gives Day is all about the chance to Give Where You Live. A call to action for every citizen to support those local nonprofits close to their hearts. It super-easy to search GAGives.org to find your perfect fit and every dollar makes an impact. This year, we hope you’ll include Atlanta Community ToolBank on your donation list. As the ONE nonprofit literally supporting EVERY cause you care about, we pledge to leverage your kind gift to the fullest, ensuring local volunteers are equipped to clean your parks, shelter vulnerable neighbors, improve schools and so much more. In fact, every dollar you give will be matched, up to $3,600, by our generous Board Director’s Challenge! And the fun doesn’t stop there…

Celebrate GA Gives Day Live!

Love retro-style carnival games? How about unique prizes? Want to shop the remaining Tool Rush sale inventory?

Have it all, baby! ToolBank’s hosting a GA Gives Day Fun-House:

Celebrate GA Gives Day live at the ToolBank’s open warehouse event. We’ll enjoy yummy snacks, fun games and shop all those Tool Rush goodies – hundreds of tools and supplies, all priced 50% off standard retail. Special perks await donors who round-up purchases with a gift of $20 or more!
ToolRushWear your best carnival attire for even more surprise gifts.
 
ToolBank’s GA Gives Day Fun-House
Date: Thursday, November 13, 2014
Time:  Drop-in between 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: 410 Englewood Road SE *Atlanta, GA 30315
***Registration not required. Free and open to the public, but this is a FUNdraiser. Donations will be encouraged!

Earth Day 2014: Put The Blue Tools To Work!


BeltLineDirtyGlove4,146 volunteers have put the blue tools to work building and sustaining the Atlanta BeltLine – completing 225 service projects to date!

NOW – IT’S YOUR TURN. 
Join Keep Atlanta Beautiful, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta Community ToolBank, and neighborhood partners to remove invasive bamboo and debris from Northeast Hiking Trail on the Atlanta BeltLine to celebrate this year’s Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine

With the popularity of the Eastside Trail, this stretch of interim hiking trail is getting more and more use. With your help, we will continue to improve the experience as people use the Atlanta BeltLine to connect between Piedmont Park and surrounding amenities.

Additionally, 
removing invasive plant species will increase the area available for native plants to grow, helping to support the local wildlife food web.
*If you are joining us as a group, each participant must register separately. 

IMPORTANT:
 In order to participate, you must print and sign this Liability Waiver and bring it with you to check in on the day of the event.

Volunteer check in will be near the 
Park Tavern, 500 10th Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309. 

DIRECTIONS
Park Tavern: 500 10th Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309. 

By MARTA:
Take Bus Route 36 or 99 which makes multiple stops along 10th Street near Piedmont Park.

Walk from
 MARTA Midtown Station: Depart the train and head East on 10th Street. Park Tavern will be on the corner of 10th St. and Monroe.

Walk or Bike:
 Another way to enjoy the Atlanta BeltLine! Walk or ride your bike on the Eastside Trail to the meeting area.

Bagels and coffee courtesy of District 6 Councilmember 
Alex Wan. Water provided by Keep Atlanta Beautiful.

Thank you to all collaborating Atlanta nonprofits!




Smart Growth… Real Impact!

*Article Reposted from Georgia Center for Nonprofits
Written by
Marc Schultz | March 2014 

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Buckhead Church checks out an average of more than $80,000 worth of tools annually to implement urban mission work across Atlanta.

The Right Set of Tools
to Manage Growth

In early February, representatives from across the country met in Atlanta for the third annual ToolBank USA summit, where the national organization celebrated its success, aligned priorities and methods, and welcomed its community and corporate partners. There, CEO Mark Brodbeck announced a strategic, organization-wide pivot from expansion to optimization, a telling sign of the remarkable growth that’s led them to this point—from a garage in Atlanta full of tools to a nationally in-demand nonprofit franchise.

It seems hard to believe that just over five years ago the Atlanta Community ToolBank (ACTB) was the only organization in the country dedicated to lending tools, at a minimum handling fee, to nonprofit organizations and other initiatives that strive to keep communities healthy, safe and clean. But talking with ACTB’s Executive Director Patty Russart about the real need for tools in communities across the country, the organization’s growth sounds less surprising than it does inevitable.

“For us, loaning out tools is not an earned income program,” said Russart. “That would defeat the purpose of what we’re trying to do.”

A unique solution catches on

The ACTB was born out of Community ReDevelopment, Inc., a small group of inner-city volunteers doing repairs for low-income senior homeowners. Their hard work and sincere commitment to “warm, safe, and dry” homes produced an outpouring of appreciation and tool donations, which the organization began sharing informally with other service groups. The popularity of the tool library led them to start an official Tool Lending Program and, in 1996, rename itself the Atlanta Community ToolBank. Realigning its mission behind the lending program, ACTB began optimizing its operation. (One of the first steps was a distinctive branding scheme that made their materials not just easily identifiable but highly visible in the community: painting the handles of each tool a particular shade of “ToolBank Blue” before it ever leaves the warehouse.)

From its formation, the model and vision of ACTB were unique. Dedicated to “ending tool scarcity for volunteers,” the organization is better stocked (by volumes) and better organized (by cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned elbow grease) than any similar tool lending programs, which tend to be imbedded in another nonprofit or library. Once the larger charitable community caught on to ACTB’s low-cost, high-volume solution for tool scarcity, national demand for the service quickly started making itself known.

Sally Sears loads up to Save Peachtree Creek!

Sally Sears loads up to Save Peachtree Creek!

Helping spread the word were national companies with active Corporate Social Responsibility programs like The Home Depot, Allstate, and Turner, who partner with ACTB to use their tools in charitable events and initiatives. When their corporate colleagues in cities outside of Atlanta asked where to get tools for their own community initiatives, the answer mystified them—they didn’t have anything like ACTB. The result is the establishment of the national organization, ToolBank USA, with chapters operating in Baltimore, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Houston, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and Richmond, Va., with Chicago’s set to launch in 2015, and a newly-commissioned mobile emergency unit ready to deploy just about wherever it’s needed.

Smart growth, mission-focused

Though the organization has developed steadily over two decades, the last five years have seen extraordinary growth, and not just on the national level (in 2013 alone, ToolBank USA oversaw the opening of four new chapters).

“In five years, we went from loaning out $600,000 in tools to, last year, loaning $1.3 million worth,” said Russart. “It’s a huge number!”

The real need for tools in communities across the country, makes ACTB’s growth sounds less surprising than it does inevitable.

Russart echoes the priorities of the national organization when she says that ACTB is “carefully monitoring growth to make sure we don’t get out of control.” That growth has included acquiring a larger facility (from 11,000 square feet to 27,000), which they moved into in July of 2013, and plans to add another full-time staff member.

“It’s great that people are learning about and using us!” said Russart. “But it’s a lot. It’s actually becoming physically impossible with just us three full-timers.”

The next step involves building resources and support for the new facility: “It took a couple years to figure out how it was going to look, and how we were going to pay for it,” said Russart. “The big success was getting it bought, the next part is finishing the campaign to complete the payoff of the mortgage and complete the needed renovations of the building.”

Preparing to load! And, yes we count every single tool - for each and every tool order!

Preparing to load! And, yes we count every single tool – for each and every tool order!

ACTB is also looking for resources to open permanent satellite locations in areas outside of Atlanta, which they’ve previously done on a temporary basis through their four-year partnership with the Gwinnett Coalition.

One place they won’t turn to for revenue is lending fees. “For us, loaning out tools is not an earned income program,” said Russart. “That would defeat the purpose of what we’re trying to do.” Though ACTB does charge a small handling fee, it’s been tested over the years to make sure it’s only enough to ensure volunteers bring the tools back.

“Because the mission dictates that we serve the charitable sector, and because the charitable sector has limited resources,” said Russart. “We always have to come back to that: keeping fees low.”

From the outside looking in, high demand and rapid growth seem like an ideal problem to have; they certainly beat struggling to keep the lights on. The challenges of smart growth, however, apply to organizations at any stage: sincere dedication to a mission that serves a real community need will attract the kind of partnerships a nonprofit needs to thrive.

And, you have the power to keep the mission moving forward. Click now to Become a ToolBanker today with a simple donation of $25 or more. And, don’t forget to check out our volunteer opportunities tab! Your gifts of time and money will literally keep the blue tools in over 2,000 volunteer hands per month.

FunDay Monday – Our Tool of the Week

PaintTrayThis week’s cool tool: the paint tray! We loaned these bad boys out 1,361 times last year and volunteers sure would hate to paint without them – especially since ToolBank equips over 600 painting projects annually. Plus, they make for some great artsy trinkets.

Be sure to check out more fun pics and even share your fave tool-repurposed art or cool tool antiques on our Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ATLToolBank/cool-tool-art-antiques-repurpose.

Buckhead Church volunteers refurbish an Atlanta Boys and Girls Club.

Buckhead Church volunteers refurbish an Atlanta Boys and Girls Club.

Even 'lil volunteers can paint a difference! She's sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

Even ‘lil volunteers can paint a difference! She’s sprucing up the Atlanta BeltLine.

You Have The Power!

You Have The Power!

Ready to make your own impact?  As a nonprofit, the ToolBank needs YOU to give a little, so local volunteers can give a lot. Simply click above to donate $10 or more. Every dollar works immediately to keep service projects across our state equipped to serve.

Time To Make Some Dreams Come True…

Some say resolutions are made to be broken. We say – they’re made to be repaired! That’s why ToolBank has dedicated the past 22 years to helping local volunteers do the right thing. The biggest lesson learned? True progress has no end.

And, that’s where you come in.

Donate a year-end gift here and now. Your support will literally keep thousands of resolutions moving forward.

And, who knows? Your own big dream might just be a tool away!

2013 was a year of true-blue caring. Your continued support will ensure volunteers can keep our communities clean, green and happy. Check out the fun from this year alone:

 208 ToolBank member agencies mobilized 54,283 volunteers to action

$1,315,040 worth of ToolBank tools put to good work

2,515 total service projects completed

TriCities

2,079 square feet of graffiti wiped out

6,256 new plants and flowers planted

39,900 lbs of litter and overgrowth removed

219 neighborhoods revitalized with home repair and facility renovations 

17 community gardens built and nurtured

12 new full playgrounds and outdoor learning classrooms constructed

The blue tools touch every inch of greater Atlanta. And now, you can too. Your monetary donation is tax-deductible and volunteer insured. Invest in the people who care for your community. Their stock will rise – growth guaranteed! Simply click now to donate. And, we thank you for ensuring 2014 will continue to meet community challenges, with blue tools in every volunteer hand!

HashTag – You’re It!

Our tweeps and volunteers have narrowed the list to 3 contenders. Select your pick for the new official hashtag of your Atlanta Community ToolBank. And, don’t forget to follow the fun @ATLToolBank.