It has always been part of USP’s mission to support the surrounding community and help keep University City a beautiful, cohesive neighborhood. So when the West Philly Tool Library opened up literally next door to campus, it was only natural for USP to get involved.
“I really appreciate their mission, and we would like to support them in whatever way we can,” said John McCaffrey, USP’s executive director of facilities services. “What I don’t want us to be is a partner that makes one swoop and then they never hear from us again.”
The West Philly Tool Library’s goal is to provide tools and other home maintenance materials to community residents for a modest annual membership fee of $20. As McCaffrey explained, there is little or no space to store large tools like lawnmowers and ladders when you live in the city. Additionally, it is not economical to spend $30 on a tool if you only need to use it once, and some people may not know exactly what tools they need to complete a job. For these reasons, the Tool Library provides an immensely helpful service wherein the community can borrow tools, learn about home maintenance, and work together to improve their neighborhood.
According to Elizabeth Bressi-Stoppe, USP’s vice president of community partnerships, the Tool Library approached the University with “a situation in which everybody wins.” Eager to get involved, USP became a founding member by providing the Library with a generous grant and other donations to help them get started. In continuing to support the Library and encouraging its growth, USP’s facilities staff recently dropped off landscaping tools, including shovels and rakes, as well as ice melt for the winter season.
In the next round of donations, McCaffrey plans to provide mechanical tools, but his commitment runs deeper than just periodically swinging by with donations. “We have the resources, knowledge, and talent to support them if they have any issues,” he said. Once the library has a sufficient stock of tools, he intends to help them organize their office and inventory so they can serve the community as efficiently as possible.
“The support of USP is incredible,” said Ben White, tool master and steering committee member at the Library. “We have received practical items like tools and furniture but also the partnership with the University, which strengthens our mission to continually renovate our neighborhood.”
On March 15 at 11 a.m., the West Philly Tool Library will hold its Grand Opening celebration to increase public awareness and generate interest. Food will be provided for the occasion on behalf of John McCaffrey and USP’s facilities services department.
The Tool Library is a fiscally sponsored project of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition (GPUAC) and is made possible by member support and community partnerships. Located at 4620 Woodland Avenue, it is currently open on Saturday mornings, but hopes to hold more hours during the spring as the demand for tools arises from spring cleaning projects. To find out more you can visit its website at www.westphillytools.org.