Meet Iain Hamp, Founder of Phoenix Community ToolBank

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By Amanda Harvey

It was all about being at the right place at the right time. Iain Hamp, Assistant Vice President of Community Affairs for Wells Fargo, was on a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, to assist with a large-scale volunteering project, when he first encountered ToolBank U.S.A. and Charlotte Community ToolBank. He was instantly inspired.

The ToolBank in Charlotte featured a tool lending program that gave charitable organizations year-round access to an inventory of tools and equipment. “My imagination started running and I wanted to do something like this, that’s a big deal and would be really transformative to the Phoenix area,” Hamp said about his decision to start Phoenix Community ToolBank in 2011.PHX-logo-blue-2

When he returned home, Hamp called ToolBank U.S.A to begin the conversation about what starting a ToolBank in Arizona would look like. A month later, a survey was conducted in Phoenix to find out if a ToolBank would be supported in the area, said Hamp. Two hundred responses were required in the first month, and they received nearly double in that time frame. Nineteen other board members were found and brought in, money was raised, the nonprofit was created, and warehouse space was rented. Hamp was granted volunteer leave from Wells Fargo to get the ToolBank off the ground, and Wells Fargo is still a strong corporate sponsor several years later.

Today, Phoenix Community ToolBank works as a lending library of good-quality tools for use with community and volunteering projects from small to massive. Hamp also points out the environmental impact of the sharing economy used in the ToolBank: “[There is] the reuse factor, and also a good portion of what is done with the tools is helping from an environmental perspective. Looking around the network, they are doing community gardens, park cleanups, and a lot of things that are going to encourage people to be out experiencing nature. Roughly a third of our projects in-network are what you would label as environmental.”

Wells Fargo exec (119 of 144)-Edit-resizeIn addition to his philanthropic nature and environmental enthusiasm, Hamp also has an impressive eco-friendly backyard at home, with a large garden and chickens. “I never really thought of myself though as having a green thumb,” said Hamp, crediting his wife Ginger for starting the garden. “I’m not sure that I still do, yet. But I am pretty good at not killing things,” he joked.

Ginger and Iain converted their pool into a tree orchard after realizing they only used it a few times a year. There are now 16 deciduous and citrus trees in place of where the swimming pool was. “Between the citrus and the fruit that we planted, from January through May we’ve got a lot of our fruit bill covered by simply going into the backyard,” he said. In addition to citrus, they also grow apples, peaches and apricots. Hamp said he was also inspired by Greg Peterson and the techniques used at the Urban Farm.

“I invite a different group of friends over each year to experience my backyard, because I want to show them that they can do this,” said Hamp. “None of the stuff I’ve done has broken the bank. It’s either cost neutral or the cost is worth the benefit that you get out of it.” In addition to the chicken coop and garden, the Hamp family also has three rain barrels, solar panels and a solar hot water heater.

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Hamp was awarded the Hon Kachina Volunteer Award for his work with the ToolBank in May 2016, one of the highest honors given in the volunteering world. Since its inception in 1977, the program is designed to recognize the achievement of outstanding Arizona volunteers and to increase public awareness about volunteerism.

Hamp has recently stepped down from the Board of Directors of the Phoenix Community ToolBank but continues to be passionate about the nonprofit’s work and improving the local community.


For more on the Phoenix Community ToolBank, visit phoenixtoolbank.org.

Photos by Vince Alfaro.

Read more leadership articles at greenlivingaz.com/leadership

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