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Repair Café serves up much-needed fix for many Orillians

Organizers say event aimed to refute notion of 'throwaway society' and help people learn skills not often taught any more

Little Evie Johnstone wanted Aria to stop hurting.

That’s why she brought her favourite stuffed toy to Saturday's Repair Café at St. James’ Anglican Church.

“She was well-loved,” said four-year-old Evie, explaining to Jill Kydd the reason Aria’s underbelly was sprouting stuffing. “She has three holes because I’m loving her a lot.”

Then Evie watched with interest as the expert seamstress sewed up Aria, making her as good as new.

Linda Rodenburg, who usually performs the surgery at home, encouraged her daughter Evie to pay attention to what Kydd was doing so she could do the same next time Aria needed fixing.

Rodenburg said she brought Evie to the event to teach her the importance of fixing things instead of throwing them away.

Kydd agreed with Rodenburg.

“We live in such a throwaway society,” said Kydd, who had been the most popular fixer Saturday morning, helping six of the 12 people attending only a couple hours into the event that started at 11 a.m. “And these skills are not being taught to kids anymore.”

She viewed this as an opportunity for people to learn and to realize they could make small repairs at home instead of throwing things away.

Most people weren’t ready to get rid of the items they brought as they had a sentimental value attached to them.

Heather Rivet, of Orillia, brought with her the doors of a 125-year-old sideboard a close friend had gifted her.

Over time, the glue had dried, loosening the panels, she said.

“I tried to fix it myself, but I didn’t glue it properly,” said Rivet, adding as a single mom she appreciated this opportunity to seek help from experts.

So she brought it to the Repair Café where Matt Thomson, who creates custom wood furniture, promptly fixed it.

“I know in this community a lot of people have stuff sitting around that they don’t know how to fix or if it can be fixed,” said the Severn resident.

This gives them the opportunity to have items repaired, said Thomson, adding if he can’t help people today, they have the option of connecting with him later.

Rivet said she would rather keep her precious piece rather than send it to a landfill.

That was one of the reasons behind organizing this event, explained Kathy Guindon, who was one of the five social work students at Lakehead University that organized the event as an assignment.

“A few non-profit representatives came to our class and talked about their work,” said Guindon in explaining the origin of the event.

Lake Country Time Trade (LCTT) members Annalise Stenekes and Valerie Powell were among those who presented.

“From an environmental and community development perspective, the concept of trading skills is attractive,” said Guindon.

She and her group thought it was a good idea to focus on the idea of reusing items, at the same time promoting some forgotten skills, such as sewing and skills used for fixing small electrical appliances.

They were able to set up the event with the help of funding obtained last year from the Sunshine Initiative, said Guindon.

“We would consider today a success,” she said, getting nods of agreement from her peers.

By the end of the day, said Guindon, they hoped to have an idea of how much was diverted from the landfill.

She hopes the Repair Café, under the LCTT banner, becomes a regular event in Orillia.