When Board President Jonathan Kolmetz returned to Houston in 2004 from a deployment in Iraq, his neighbors were there to support him by providing comfort, encouragement and friendship. Similarly, 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 to the community by 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 non-profit and grassroots organizations over the years. He began to think of ways to formalize an organization that could leverage the existing resources of the community and make a significant impact.
As such, the Leather Apron Foundation was created by like-minded friends and neighbors with a mutual desire to help those in need in their very own community.
Leather Apron Foundation in Our Community
Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Shepherd Park Plaza, Greater Heights and the 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 always find a diverse group of people on any given block who care about each other. The friends who formed this foundation were raised and went to school in these neighborhoods that helped shape them as individuals through the neighbors they encountered. Thus, they chose to raise their families in this very same community. The Leather Apron Foundation is based on the philosophy “compassion for neighbors, service for community,” which truly defines our great neighborhoods.
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 craftsmen and inventors, the leather apron is a symbol of hard work, innovation and improvement.
Franklin’s club met on Friday nights to share ideas and motivate each other into 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, as well as public libraries and public hospitals. 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 seeks to honor our national heritage of hard work, innovation and service by striving to embody our predecessors’ hands-on approach to improving our country by improving our community.