Clearing the Way for Little Duck Creek Trail

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.”

The Nature Center’s Interactive Initiatives

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 CNC maple tappingTucker, 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.”

Caring for Dayton

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.Love Dayton

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.

Putting Tools in Kids’ Hands

“Managed by Allied Construction Industries, The Greater Cincinnati Construction Foundation (GCCF) works with Cincinnati community partners to provide educational programs that promote the construction industry and teach math and science through hands-on tool interaction. Since the foundation started ten years ago, a great deal of evolving has progressed GCCF’s initiatives. Lydia Burns, lead outreach and education advocate for GCCF, has expanded the organization’s initial programs, which now function as a workforce-development model for multiple school districts.

Lydia leads construction-based education programs at eight schools. For one individual, however, her role occupies a great capacity. This is where Cincinnati Community ToolBank steps in to assist Lydia with her program administration. Lydia’s engagement with the ToolBank braces her work at Roll Hill School, whose resource coordinator aspired to build a communiAllied Construction Photos (1)ty garden. When he spoke with Lydia about his concerns regarding resource accessibility, she suggested borrowing tools from the ToolBank to help make the project manageable and affordable.

“The ToolBank removes a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to performing workforce development,” says Lydia. She explained how contractors often desire to leverage the construction industry by educating children about job opportunities. Unfortunately, schools generally lack the quantity of tools necessary to make such instruction possible. By having access to the ToolBank, Lydia can equip her students with the proper tools for lessons that she teaches at an extremely affordable rate. Thus, the ToolBank’s services simultaneously support the development of future construction leaders, as well as allow the program to expand to more schools.
In addition to borrowing tools for their community garden, Roll Hill has also utilized the ToolBank’s equipment for special events such as honor-roll functions and parent-teacher conferences. Through her programs’ partnerships with the ToolBank, Lydia hopes that she can help eliminate stereotypes about the construction industry, as well as assist children with finding employment in the field. “ToolBank is the partner you need for peace-of-mind,” affirmed Lydia. “My relationship with ToolBank allows me to do my work better than anyone else.”

Rebuilding the Ridge

On June 7, 2018, a fire caused by an electrical problem in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio destroyed Molly Malone’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, The Coffee Exchange, and five second-floor apartments located above the businesses. As strong community partners, Molly Malone’s and The Coffee Exchange’s circumstances launched a clamor of comments on a local Facebook page by neighborhood residents regarding what could be done to help those affected by the devastation. Mary Ray, the Vice Board President of Planning for the Kennedy Heights Community Council, stumbled across the pleads from locals. “Everyone in the neighborhood wanted to do something,” noticed Mary. The center, she thought, was the perfect place to hold a benefit to raise money for restoring the


On July 1, less than a month after the despairing community setback, Mary, with the help of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council (PRCC) and the Pleasant Ridge Business Association (PRBA), facilitated a benefit cleverly dubbed “Rebuild the Ridge”. The fundraiser was held at the Kennedy Heights Art Center. In attendance were local art vendors, musicians, and chefs who were willing to share their talents with the community to help raise money for redevelopment funding. Emily Frank, a Pleasant Ridge resident and local business owner of Share: Cheesebar, volunteered to help facilitate the benefit.

“The event made the community as whole feel closer,” said Emily. “It was overwhelming to see the outpour of support that came in for the community and the businesses.”

Vital to the event’s success was the Cincinnati Community ToolBank, which provided 100 chairs and 20 tables to create a welcoming and comfortable space for the attendees. To borrow this equipment from the ToolBank costed the Kennedy Heights Art Center just over $100. Had the center bought these furnishing at a retail price, however, the total value would have amounted to $3,655. Given that the arts center is a nonprofit organization, it would have been logistically more difficult to host a successful function without the ToolBank’s services. Mallory Feltz, Director of Exhibitions and Public Art at the center, stated, “The ToolBank took care of all of our table and chair event needs, and they did so with very little stress.” She added that thanks to the ToolBank, those in attendance were able to sit and enjoy the event, allowing the benefit to raise $22,630 for their beloved community partners.

Molly Malone’s and The Coffee Exchange have each been given half of the event’s earnings. Since receiving the community’s funds, The Coffee Exchange started designing blueprints for their new location. It has not been confirmed that Molly Malone’s will rebuild. If they decide against it, the money raised at the event will be managed by the Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation (PRDC) to assist with the economic redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge’s business district.

Through its collaborative efforts, the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and the Cincinnati Community ToolBank have proven that community is not defined by a locality; instead, community is a social and cultural network composed of individuals who use their skills and talents to bind relationships and fulfill needs.

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