June 2019 Volunteer Spotlight: Neil Todd

The Tacoma Tool Library is powered by incredible volunteers like Neil Todd. It’s stories like Neil’s that inspire us, and we’re grateful that he and our other volunteers are willing to invest their time and energy to make the Tool Library a welcoming community space for all Tacomans.

Neil volunteers “behind the scenes” with our other amazing inventory volunteers to make sure our tools are fixed, well organized, and ready to use for the members walking through our doors every week. The Tool Library’s mission of keeping tools out of local landfills really resonated with Neil when he first heard about us, and he’s been volunteering with us ever since! If you see Neil at the Library, be sure to give him a “thank you!”


TTL: What inspired you to first to volunteer with the Tool Library?*

NT: I’ve long had concerns with how much we waste as a society. When we moved to Tacoma, my wife ran across a reference to TTL online, so we had to check it out. I liked the goal to keep usable tools out of the dump, even better that they could be a resource for community to maintain or improve their homes or simply enjoy creative DIY. Oh, that and chance to tinker with tools was pretty irresistible.

TTL:  How do you volunteer with the Tool Library?*

NT: I volunteer for the tool maintenance “Tool Parties”

TTL: What is the biggest personal benefit you receive as a volunteer at the Tool Library?

NT: The satisfaction of doing something concrete to reduce waste rather just grouse about it and encourage DIY rather than always just ”Go Buy”.

TTL: Who have you met through volunteering at the Tool Library?

NT: The “Tool Parties” are off hours so mostly I work with Geoff and Sara. Sara is great at breaking down tasks into logical steps, and we make a good team on organizing and not getting distracted (something I tend to do). Geoff and I like to brainstorm and find ways to fix, patch or sometimes “Frankenstein” parts from multiple tools in maintenance to create a working unit. Hayes is fascinating in how much he knows and how many projects he is involved with. Sharayah is a great example of the younger generation that is community oriented and focused on active improvement. Old guys like me should pay attention.

TTL: Where are you from, and how long have you been living in Tacoma?

NT: I was born in rural Nebraska, grew up in Phoenix Az. My wife was born in Taiwan, and individually we’ve both lived overseas for careers. We met in Germany, relocated to the U.S. where we continued to bounce around for careers until retiring to Arizona, then re-retiring to Tacoma about a year and a half ago

TTL: What do you like about Tacoma?

NT: Four relatively mild seasons, stunning landscapes of sea and mountains and the mashup of distinct little villages that comprise Tacoma. We also get a kick out of the obvious industrial port, railroads, ferries and bridges nestled in scenic nature. It's not like some of the other coastal cities we considered that seem to try to hide evidence of working life that might spoil views for vacationers. Of course, it helps that the scenic views here pretty much overwhelm the view. Even the port is dwarfed when Rainier is out!   

TTL: What is your favorite “homegrown” project that you are particularly proud of?

NT: We’ve done several remodel projects, hard to say which is favorite. Guess I’d say the “next one!”