History of the Leather Apron Club
In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed the Leather Apron Club to unite skilled workers and visionary thinkers. Traditionally worn by the craftsmen and inventors, the leather apron is a symbol of hard work, innovation, and improvement.
Franklin’s club met on Friday nights, in taverns and homes, to share ideas and motivate one another to action. Its diverse members included a merchant, mathematician, inventor, surveyor, cabinetmaker, shoemaker, and bartender. Although the participants came from different backgrounds, they all shared a common spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves and help their community.
The Leather Apron Club birthed many of the community institutions we rely on today, such as the town fire department, public library, and public hospital. Benjamin Franklin worked diligently to improve the life of the everyday man with inventions like the Franklin stove, bifocals, and the lightning rod. He also was an important intellectual leader as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Treaty of Paris.
The Leather Apron Foundation wants to honor our national heritage of hard work, innovation, and service. We strive to embody our predecessors’ hands-on approach to improving our country by improving our community.
Leather Apron Foundation in Our Community
Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Shepherd Park Plaza, Greater Heights, and surrounding neighborhoods were built on and have maintained a great sense of community despite being located in the nation’s fourth largest city. You can find a diverse group of people on any given block who care about each other. The group of friends that formed this foundation were raised or went to school in the GO/OF/Heights area. These neighborhoods helped shape who we are as individuals through the people/neighbors we encountered. Thus, we chose to raise our families here. We founded the Leather Apron Foundation based on the philosophy “compassion for neighbors, service for community,” which truly defines our great neighborhoods.
When Board President Jonathan Kolmetz returned to Houston from Iraq in 2004, his neighbors were there to support him, providing comfort, encouragement, and friendship. And when he and his wife welcomed their first child, the community made sure they didn’t need to cook a meal for a month.
Over the years, Jonathan has had many opportunities to give back, joining with friends to raise money for individuals and families in need. When someone was in the hospital, or another local soldier returned, they pooled their funds and sent a check. It was as though they all belonged to one extended family—their giving was natural and sincere.
Jonathan became actively involved in several nonprofit and grassroots organizations over the years, and he started thinking: what if we had a formal organization that could leverage the existing resources of our community? Think how much greater our impact could be. His friends agreed.
The Leather Apron Foundation (LAF) was created by like-minded friends and neighbors with a mutual desire to help those in need. They are committed to nurturing a community of active givers, so that every individual has someone to turn to in their time of crisis.