Repair Cafe

Electronics expert Neal Sedell works on a pair of headphones as part of Repair Cafe Clark County in 2017.

On Wednesday, Columbia Springs, the nonprofit that runs the Repair Clark County Program, announced a free drop-off repair program for most household goods. The program invites members of the public to bring broken household items to be repaired for free by volunteers. 

How Repair Clark County can continue to serve the community while also keeping everyone safe is a question program coordinator Terra Heilman has been asking herself since the pandemic began. 

Along with the rest of the world, the program has been severely impacted by the global pandemic. 

“We have volunteers who are eager to serve and miss the interaction with the community that our program provides … While we can’t do much about the latter, we can address the former.” Heilman said in a news release. 

Now the program is offering free fixing clinics from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in 2020. All items must be pre-registered before being dropped off at the location at 12208 S.E. Evergreen Highway, Vancouver. Once the item is dropped off, volunteers will attempt the repairs at home on their own time. Two weeks later, clients can come and pick up their repaired items. 

“We’re very excited to see how well this has been received. We think it’s a great solution, even if it’s fairly different than how we would normally operate,” Heilman said. 

In a regular year, the free repair program brings in over 100 people to public events across the county. Skilled volunteer “fixers” attempt to repair broken items such as appliances, electronics and sewing projects. 

This year, the program has had to implement many safety protocols, including pre-registering items and creating appointment times for clients in order to still serve the community with skills such as knife sharpening. 

“We’ve been able to offer a few drive-through type events, but only certain skills have worked well for that.” Heilman said. 

Almost any household appliance can be dropped off, but the two biggest exceptions are microwaves and gas engines. However, the item must also be able to be carried by one person. 

“Right now, because these items have to be stored and transported, the size rule is even more important and, sadly, we can’t work with bikes right now because of this. But broken appliances, sewing projects, broken jewelry — we will take a look at almost anything and at least give it a try.” ‘

The program has a high success rate, with 80 to 90 percent of items submitted being repaired. “I’m continuously impressed by the abilities of our fixers. They are truly remarkable. I’m honored to work with them and excited to get back to work!” Heilman said.

 

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