In 2005 a US Army soldier named Jonathan Kolmetz returned home from Iraq. Kolmetz quickly realized that involvement in community service was the most powerful tool in helping integrate himself back into the civilian world.
“It was fast-paced, high-contact and gave me a sense of purpose that I missed from my time in the military,” said Kolmetz, President and Founder of the Leather Apron Foundation.
Taking what he had learned from volunteering with non-profit organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Houston and Skills 4 Living, Kolmetz partnered with three other graduate friends from his alma mater, St. Pius X High School, to form the Leather Apron Foundation (LAF).
“As a community of friends and neighbors, we were already supporting one another but we figured if we formalized our giving and support that when that time came to help one another we would be able to give even more,” said Kolmetz. “I am proud to say that we have given back more than $100,000 to this community and thousands of hours of community service over the last 5 years.”
LAF is rooted in local people supporting local causes. LAF has several annual programs including, but not limited to, a Day of Service and 3-2-1 GO! Back to School, where a week’s worth of uniforms are provided to select students in need. LAF also fundraises for a large variety of local organizations and groups, including two of our previously featured non-profits: Oaks Dads’ Club and MANNA Food Pantry.
LAF stands apart from other fundraising agencies, in that they also support individual people during times of need, such as death or financial loss.
“In 2015 we helped one family raise more than $30,000 after the primary breadwinner received a heart transplant,” said Kolmetz. “Last year we supported, both financially and with volunteers, two events for Friends of Oak Forest Park and helped them raise more than $50,000 towards the revitalization of Oak Forest Park and their goal of becoming a Playground for All Abilities.”
Kolmetz said that LAF is hoping to grow to become the primary go-to organization for local residents in need and those who have a desire to give back.
“We want to be the bridge between those that want to give back and those that are in need,” said Kolmetz. “We want to continue fostering a sense of community outside of philanthropic and civic activities so we support or put on events like Move in the Park.”
Like most non-profit leaders, Kolmetz says the best part about the job is the feeling he is left with at the end of the day, knowing that not only have his actions made a difference, but also that he is surrounded by a community that wants to make a difference as well.
“The most powerful moments come sitting around the kitchen table in the homes of friends and neighbors during or after their time of need,” said Kolmetz.
“Many times we cannot put the pieces back together but we can put our collective arms around them and say we are here for you. I wish our hundreds of donors and sponsors could feel how powerful that collective hug and show of support is during that time of need.”
Although LAF works to satisfy the needs of the community, they also need the community’s help to do so. If you are interested in volunteering or just learning more about LAF visit www.leatherapronfoundation.org, and sign up for their email list. You can also call 281-723-5707.