News : For the People by the People: Community Toolbox Aids Their Community

Jun 10, 2014

Published in Patch, SeacoastOnline, and Fosters Online

By Craig Robert Brown
Green Alliance Staff Writer

PORTSMOUTH - People helping people. That's what Community Toolbox, a newly minted 501c3 nonprofit in Portsmouth, N.H., does best. As a nonprofit business, Community Toolbox operates on three platforms that give back to the community and the environment. From the organization's Fix-It program, to its Outlet Store, to its DeConstruction program, Community Toolbox has made itself into a force for good in the Seacoast. So why does Community Toolbox work so hard? Simple: they saw a community in need.

Cheryl Van Allen, Executive Director of Community Toolbox, of her experience with Board President Tom Boisvert. "When we were with Habitat for Humanity, we got phone calls regularly from people who would ask us to come and help them fix things in their homes," she said. "While they may have owned their own homes, they could not afford to do the repairs to keep them safe and healthy."

Based on this experience, Boisvert and Van Allen knew firsthand just how important developing a nonprofit like Community Toolbox would be to the community.

The Fix-It program, the "lifeblood" of the business Van Allen says, is a team of volunteers that helps homeowners in need with repairs to their homes. These repairs are more than just cosmetic touch-ups and focus heavily on the health and safety of the home and homeowners. The Fix-It program is open to those who desperately need the help, or are unable to do the work themselves. Largely, it’s a clientele recommended by caseworkers from social service programs like Food Stamps, Welfare, Senior Home Health Care professionals, those who receive oil or electrical assistance from Community Action Programs and people on Medicare and Medicaid.

Community Toolbox's volunteers make themselves available to those who've asked for assistance, and are asked to pay only for the materials required to complete the job. To fund the Fix-it program, Community Toolbox relies on their Outlet Store which sells recycled home goods and appliances. Some of the product sold at the Outlet comes from Community Toolbox's DeConstruction program, but Van Allen notes that their product also comes from generous local home improvement retailers.

Read the whole story on the Portsmouth Patch!