Blog : Community Toolbox Celebrates Newly Received Non-profit Status

By Emily | Jul 9, 2014 | in

By Emily Norloff
Green Alliance Writer

A safe and healthy home. That is what Community Toolbox offers their customers. With their three-tier business model, and team of volunteers, Community Toolbox is a non-profit that works like none other.

“We do something special here,” said Cheryl Van Allen, Community Toolbox's Executive Director. “There is a gap in the community's need for affordable repair work and we're here to fill it.”

In June, Community Toolbox celebrated the approval of their 501c3 nonprofit status from the state of New Hampshire with an open house at their Retail Outlet.

The event served as an opportunity for the public to see first-hand how Community Toolbox approaches a project. Dressed in matching light-blue t-shirts, Community Toolbox's team of volunteers were on-hand to answer the public's questions regarding how the Retail Outlet receives the products it sells and the type of work the volunteers do on home projects.

Also in attendance were those members of the community who have received help through Community Toolbox's Fix-It program. Though the open house was short, lasting roughly an hour, the event marked an important moment in Community Toolbox's history.

 
The Fix-It program, the crux of Community Toolbox's three-part business model, is truly how Community Toolbox is able to give back to the community. Funded and supported by the Deconstruction program and Retail Outlet, the Fix-It program is targeted towards veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and people who have fallen on hard times. This, as Van Allen explained, prevents financially strained home-owners from choosing between repairs, groceries and mortgage payments.
 
“It sounds cliché, but it’s a win-win-win,” remarks Van Allen. “More people see the circle of life in these programs and that every arm of the business is getting help. There is no loss here, no one is suffering.”

When Community Toolbox deconstructs a project, they hand demolish a building, or room, carefully to keep usable materials in working condition for reuse or recycling. Once on site the fully-insured volunteers remove, for a small fee, all reusable appliances and materials. This saves not only on labor costs, but also disposal fees and allows a contractor to make tax deductions on the donated materials.

It is also an environmentally-friendly service, keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills. According to Van Allen, part of living a healthy life includes a healthy environment. For this reason Community Toolbox has joined the Green Alliance - a locally driven union passionate about bringing awareness to environmentally friendly businesses while also providing its members with discounts on green products and services.

All donated materials are sold through Community Toolbox's Retail Outlet, which accepts goods from manufacturers, home improvement stores, contractors and individuals. These items include; overstocked, discontinued or new and used, cabinets, doors, flooring and windows. The sale, or use, of these items fund the Fix-It program or small repair jobs.

Everything considered, it can be said that these three programs are more effective than relying solely on grants and donations like other non-profits. When asked if that was true, Van Allen agreed.

“Part of the reason Fix-It programs like ours no longer exist in the area is because funding is tight," said Van Allen. "We are self-sustaining. We are longer lasting. We can’t do good if our doors are closed.”

Though Community Toolbox helps the public, the public also helps one another by donating unwanted goods and their time. Being able to see where their donated goods are going or volunteering their hours to bring a safer home to someone in need is beneficial to the community as a whole.

“The community appreciates the ability to assist. Our program is a mutually beneficial arrangement and the community members like that,” said Van Allen.

Now that they've had their official status for some time, Community Toolbox is still redefining the effect a local non-profit can have on its community.

“We are learning by fire. We have experience in retail and our volunteers are experienced, but with home repair we are learning as we go," said Van Allen. "This is a living, breathing business and we are changing as we need to and we are open to all feedback. Our goal is to always to be moving forward.”

With their Retail Outlet, Fix-It and DeConstruction programs, Community Toolbox is able to deliver on their promise of a safe home.

Green Alliance Members save 10% on all purchses at the Community Toolbox store. Not a member? Join here