The Sanctuary, a social enterprise event space operated by nonprofit organization Community Matters, makes the power of placemaking evident. Birthday parties, weddings, and special events are all reasons people come together, and The Sanctuary’s accommodations allow such events to come to life. What was originally St. Michael’s Church in 1847, The Sanctuary was a gift from the Archdiocese to Community Matters after the church’s closure in the 1990s. Following a series of renovations that began in 2014, The Sanctuary is now a picturesque space available for low-cost to community members who use it for celebratory purposes. Additionally, the proceeds earned from outside event rentals allow The Sanctuary to support the organization’s community-based programs, which aim to create a thriving Lower Price Hill neighborhood.
To operate as a social enterprise event space, however, the Sanctuary requires special-events equipment. Since the Cincinnati Community ToolBank opened its doors in 2012, Community Matters has recognized the importance of a partnership with their fellow nonprofit organization. “At The Sanctuary, we believe that your event matters. The ToolBank helps promote this tagline by providing necessary materials that allow us to host events at The Sanctuary,” said Patty Lee, Community Matter’s Director of Development and Communication.
In the seven years that The Sanctuary has worked with ToolBank, the organization has borrowed a variety of tools and materials for special events and beyond. From wheelbarrows and shovels to tables and chairs, all equipment borrowed has assisted Community Matters’ innumerable tasks. Patty joked, “I don’t think there’s a tool we haven’t checked out from ToolBank. If there is, we should borrow it just for fun!”. Patty affirmed that Community Matters will continue using the ToolBank’s services for their project and event needs, particularly with their upcoming affordable housing projects. These projects will break ground in Spring 2019 in the Lower Price Hill neighborhood where Community Matters resides.
How do communities come to be? Support and engagement among neighbors allow individuals to build a communal network, and the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation leverages such initiatives to make a united community possible.
Matt Strauss, director of real estate development and marketing at the Redevelopment Corp., explained that promoting the surrounding neighborhood is the organization’s main focus. From building new homes to educating residents, the organization crafts Madisonville’s needs into opportunities for growth.
In order to brand the biggest impact possible, the Redevelopment Corp. partners with the Cincinnati Community ToolBank. This partnership gives them the opportunity to expand their tool inventory and advance their projects. One of the organization’s biggest projects is paving a bicycle trail along Little Duck Creek. After bicycle activists in the neighborhood expressed their interest in creating a trail that connects to other Ohio trail networks, local volunteers got to work.
The first step in this project was to clear the way for the trail. For this to be accomplished, an expansive inventory of saws were necessary. Fortunately for the Redevelopment Corp., the ToolBank has the required tool capacity available. Next, debris had to be cleared and invasive species had to be extinguished along the trail. These jobs were completed using the ToolBank’s tools too.While this project is well on its way, Matt emphasized that, between clearing the area and laying mulch where necessary, it will take years to finish. Eventually, a bridge will need to be built to connect the trail to others.
In addition to establishing Duck Creek Trail, the Redevelopment Corp. has also used the ToolBank to complete a variety of clean-up projects, as well as for special events equipment to host their annual Cincinnati Jazz and Garden Festival.
The Madisonville Urban Redevelopment Corp. yearns for an intra-personal harmony that yields worldwide progression. “The ToolBank has given us the resources to make this job possible,” said Matt. “Lots of different tools are needed for our projects at different times, and that’s why we partnered with the ToolBank from the very beginning.”
Helping fellow nonprofit organizations leverage the Cincinnati community is what the ToolBank aims to do, so we love seeing our blue tools in the hands of Cincinnati Nature Center volunteers who do just that. The Cincinnati Nature Center, which has been around for over 50 years, is a nonprofit organization that maintains award-winning nature trails and nature-based education programs. The center aims to inspire conservation in the community.
Because the Nature Center provides a variety of interactive initiatives, volunteers are needed to make the programs successful. Marissa Tucker, head of the Center’s volunteer program, recognizes the value of volunteers. The Center has about 400 continuous volunteers that help the organization with all their efforts; the ToolBank’s partnership is needed to gather tools and equipment that support the volunteer program. “The ToolBank allows us to leverage people that want to help. Their partnership provides our volunteers with tools, and volunteers take it from there,” said Marissa. She added that, because the Nature Center only uses certain equipment a few times per year, it makes more sense to borrow necessary tools from the ToolBank to preserve the Nature Center’s funds and storage space.
Previously, the Nature Center has used the ToolBank’s special event equipment to host fundraisers and education initiatives. These events include the Center’s annual “Hoots and Hops” and “Preparing for the Night” Fundraisers, both of which deck the center’s nature trails with education stations to teach the community about wildlife and conservation efforts while simultaneously raising funds for center’s efforts. For these events, the center borrows pop-up tents and coolers to make their space welcoming for attendees.
The center also rents the ToolBank’s drills to complete large landscaping projects, such as extensive planting projects and tapping into maple trees for sap. Drills are needed for the center’s DIY mushroom log class too, during which participants drill holes into logs for mushrooms to be planted. By borrowing drills from the ToolBank, the Nature Center saves a tremendous amount of money given that the tools are gathered for a fraction of their retail price.
Marissa affirmed the ToolBank’s services make the Nature Center’s efforts easier and affordable. She declared that the Nature Center will continue using blue tools and equipment throughout 2019, particularly for a national conference they’re hosting in August, tapping maple trees for sap, and completing large landscaping efforts. “It makes sense to have an organization that empowers everyone,” exclaimed Marissa, “and that’s what the ToolBank does.”
The second Saturday of June may be irrelevant to most, but for the Christian Life Center, this day is basically equivalent to a national holiday. Months of planning and hours of preparation yield the Love Dayton Event, the Christian Life Center’s biggest philanthropic affair, which takes place on this day every year. Equipped with countless wheelbarrows, shovels, and rakes, about 600 volunteers go out into the Dayton community to assist nonprofits with landscaping and painting needs.
The Cincinnati Life Center’s mission is: “To know God, be His people, value others and change the world”. Through their Love Dayton Event, the center’s volunteers accomplish all the above. In 2013, 2015, and every year since, helping hands of the Christian Life Center serve about 50 sites in Dayton, completing about 120 projects in just one day.
For this event to be successful, though, the Christian Life Center needs tools to complete their projects. Fortunately, the Cincinnati Community ToolBank has an expansive tool inventory to fill the hands of Love Dayton volunteers. Last year alone, the Christian Life Center borrowed more than $21,200 worth of tools from the ToolBank. “We would be lost without the ToolBank,” said Ron Lewis, the Love Dayton Event lead the last three years. Ron added that although the Christian Life Center has a small tool inventory of their own, it is not nearly as varied as the ToolBank’s. Additionally, the ToolBank is economically sufficient for the Christian Life Center, which is able to borrow about 300 tools for 3% of their retail value. Therefore, the ToolBank is essential to the event’s impact on the Dayton Community.
The Christian Life Center’s partnership with the Cincinnati Community ToolBank exhibits just how impactful the ToolBank can be. Not only does the ToolBank empower Cincinnati, but also it transforms areas as far as Dayton and beyond, making strides far and wide across city borders.