Senior citizens give broken things second chance at Repair Cafés

It’s all about decreasing waste going to landfills, constructing a group of environmentally conscious citizens and getting broken gadgets fastened totally free — all whereas having enjoyable. And it is also about useful retirees prepared to volunteer for 4 hours on a Saturday and frugal-minded senior citizens with things in want of a bit TLC discovering a way of group whereas doing good.

It’s the Repair Café Long Island, a part of a worldwide grassroots effort to get individuals to assume twice earlier than throwing one thing away. The Long Island chapter was began in 2017 by longtime environmental activist and self-described earth educator Laurie Farber, 65, of Wyandanch. Her goal: to scale back waste on the Island.

“You know, Long Islanders produce 7 pounds of waste per day, as opposed to 4 pounds per day by other New York State residents,” Farber stated. “I thought it was about time to do something.”

Farber stated she discovered about Repair Café International throughout a web-based webinar about environmental conservation. The group was based in 2009 within the Netherlands by Martine Postma, a Dutch environmentalist and former journalist. Postma noticed what number of things individuals within the Netherlands threw away as an alternative of making an attempt to repair them. Her imaginative and prescient was a program that might assist individuals get their broken gadgets fastened without spending a dime by volunteers, aka restore coaches, with quite a lot of expertise, whereas decreasing waste going to landfills. Worldwide, all the restore cafes have prevented an estimated 770,000 kilos of waste, in line with the Repair Café International Foundation.

Today, there are 1,653 lively Repair Cafés in 35 nations, together with the United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, United States and Canada, based on the Repair Café web site. There are 75 within the United States, with 14 in New York State.

Farber used the starter package bought from Repair Café International to recruit volunteers and get the phrase out to the group. “I have found that the best way to recruit people is by word-of-mouth and meeting people at events,” she stated.

Farber’s Repair Café Long Island is among the many packages she runs underneath Starflower Experiences Inc. of Wyandanch, a nonprofit she began in 1989. The nonprofit’s instructional programming and experiences purpose to assist individuals of all ages perceive, respect and stay extra in concord with the earth’s life techniques, in line with its website.

Coaches in motion

“I adore being a volunteer repair coach. I love it,” stated John Herson, 87, of Smithtown, at the Sept. 7 Repair Café at the Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station.

Having labored all 10 occasions since 2017, Herson stated, “I love helping people and fixing things — it’s all part of a puzzle. I don’t do drugs; this is my high.” His darkish blue sweatshirt, emblazoned with “Mr. Fix It,” was a present from his grandchildren Rachel and Matthew 15 years in the past.

Herson tells the story of his different granddaughter, Kara, 21, who’s a junior at Stanford University in California and a member of the campus chapter of Repair Café. “She told me she repairs bicycles on campus for Repair Café,” he stated. “I was proud and amazed.”

Herson bought his marine provide firm of 27 years, Dynagrout in Deer Park, in 1998 and retired. “I have been fixing things for over 60 years. The only thing I’m not good at is electronics. I can fix anything mechanical or electrical,” he stated.

One shopper, Janet Morahan, 84, of Port Jefferson Station, introduced Herson a broken lamp.

“I heard about the Repair Café through the library’s newsletter,” she stated. “We should recycle; it’s the right thing to do.”

Herson first took aside the lamp change and socket. Troubleshooting, he eliminated the change of one other lamp, put it on Morahan’s lamp, which then labored. He advised her she must get a single socket change from the native hardware store, come again, and he would substitute it for her.

Morahan did so and was delighted.

She thanked Herson particularly when she heard one other shopper, Deborah Moss, 76, of Port Jefferson Station, point out that she got here to the Repair Café as a result of a hardware store was going to cost her $60 to repair one lamp — and she or he had three broken ones.

Along with Herson, there have been three different restore coaches working within the library’s group room.

Aiming for ‘second chance’

Twenty individuals — all of them within the 50-plus demographic — turned out for the September occasion, toting luggage and crates of things to repair.

“Younger folks do seem to have a more ‘throw away’ mentality,” Farber stated. “We older folks are not as quick to throw things away seeing value in the possessions that might have a second chance.”

Farber began her first Repair Café in 2017 at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch. Since then, there have been 5 extra occasions at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, two at Patchogue-Medford Library and two at Comsewogue Public Library.

“The Comsewogue Public Library is very excited to have hosted Repair Café Long Island for the second time,” stated Christine Parker-Morales, 39, of Bellport, the grownup program coordinator. “Although the March 2019 event was not well-attended due to a snowstorm, we see the Repair Café as a wonderful way to promote sustainability by keeping things out of landfills, and a great opportunity for patrons to share their skills and knowledge with each other.”

An electrical engineer at Data Device Corp., a protection contractor in Bohemia, Chris Solomon, 30, of Central Islip, says he volunteers as a restore coach as a result of “I’ve run out of things of mine to fix. So this is perfect.”

Solomon, who learn concerning the Long Island Repair Café two years in the past in Newsday, was visited by Irvin Fritzhand, 83, of Smithtown, who introduced two of his father’s drills from the 1930s and didn’t know in the event that they have been nonetheless working.

“My dad was from Yugoslavia and immigrated to the United States,” stated Fritzhand, who retired as chief of remedy at Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital in 1996. “He started his own sheet metal company in Brooklyn. These drills are memories and treasures to me,” Fritzhand stated.

Solomon found the cable on one of many drills was tangled. Once untangled and plugged in, that drill labored; however the different didn’t — the motor was shot. Fritzhand was completely happy to seek out out their situation. “At least it’s good to know now,” Fritzhand stated. “I was just curious.”

Another restore coach, Paul Orfin, 40, of Patchogue, a mechanical engineer for 10 years at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, was busy fixing a growth field. “I’ve done Repair Cafés for two years, and they are very rewarding to me,” Orfin stated. “I like helping people and figuring out a solution.” He came upon about Repair Cafés from his library, Patchogue-Medford Library

Edith Tilley, 75, of Mount Sinai introduced the growth field. “I love playing music and when the CD player stopped working I was devastated,” she stated.  

Orfin took the unit aside and used his multimeter to troubleshoot the CD participant. The CD participant’s motor didn’t work and alternative elements have been too costly, so he defined to Tilley the way to bypass it to play her cassette tapes.

Enjoying the problem

The fourth restore coach, Dave Spieler, 42, of Mastic Beach, has volunteered at 5 Repair Cafés up to now two years. For the previous 12 years, Spieler has labored as a service technician at Supply One in Farmingdale, repairing, diagnosing and putting in packaging equipment.

“I enjoy the challenge when someone brings something in to see if we can figure out how to take it apart, fix it, or at least diagnose it properly, and then put it back together in working condition, [that] is a great feeling,” Spieler stated.

He stated he revels in fixing things, like previous radios or instruments, that he usually doesn’t get a chance to work on. “I like repairing old electrical devices such as electric-powered tools. Today, they are just not made the way they used to be,” Spieler stated, explaining that he’s discovered older units have been usually made higher and are simpler for him to restore.

Spieler was introduced with two specific challenges by Charles Kwon, 61, of Mount Sinai: a 2-cup rice cooker and a blow dryer.

“I was not able to repair the rice cooker or the hair dryer, but I was able to diagnose both problems,” Spieler stated. “The rice cooker seemed to have a heating element that was not good, and the blow-dryer had a broken on-off switch for which parts are not readily available.”

Kwon, who came upon concerning the occasion from the library publication, was “ very satisfied with the diagnosis, but obviously left with nothing repaired,” Spieler defined. “He advised me he needed to convey residence a working hair dryer for his spouse and a working rice cooker for himself.

“We can’t assure we will repair every thing.”

Ricardo Rivera, 65, of Wyandanch, a restore coach who has volunteered at 4 cafes, didn’t make it to the September occasion. A retired industrial mechanic and safety guard, Rivera stated he is all the time beloved to restore gadgets. “On my mother’s side, the whole family was in construction and that’s where I learned how to use tools,” he stated.

Although Rivera stated he can repair almost something mechanical, he loves repairing bicycles probably the most. In addition, he stated, working at the Repair Cafés feeds his ardour for volunteering.

Farber stated she’s starting to plant the seeds for others to arrange Repair Cafés on Long Island.

“I just had a conversation on Facebook with someone in Hampton Bays. That’s a bit far for me so since they are a nonprofit, I’m encouraging them to purchase the ‘kit’ themselves [about $60]. I expect they’ll be very successful out there,” Farber stated.

Starflower’s subsequent Repair Café is in October, with two extra scheduled for early 2020 (see field).

Future Repair Cafés

  • Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to three p.m., at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church, 1434 Straight Path, Wyandanch.
  • Feb. 29, 2020, 11 a.m. to three p.m., at Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Rd., Port Jefferson Station.
  • March 28, 2020, from 11 a.m. to three p.m., at South County Public Library, 22 Station Rd., Bellport.

For particulars, go to the Repair Café Long Island Facebook page, RepairCafeLongIsland, or name Laurie Farber at 516-938-6152 or e-mail

— Ron Marge

Think you’ve got acquired the ‘Repair’ stuff?

Repair Café Long Island Chapter is in search of residents with totally different expertise to volunteer as restore coaches. Potential coaches are individuals who can deliver their very own instruments and luxuriate in sharing their information with their neighbors. The chapter is on the lookout for restore coaches who’re useful with: clothes and textiles, bicycles, electrical home equipment, furnishings and picket objects, jewellery and toys/stuffed animals.

In addition to restore coaches, the cafes want hosts and hostesses to welcome shoppers and function a contact level for each shoppers and repairers within the Repair Café, in addition to present coffee and tea at occasions.

The group additionally wants volunteers who can bake cookies for the upcoming cafes together with these prepared to mortgage or donate books and magazines about repairing things.

For particulars, go to the Repair Café Long Island Facebook web page, RepairCafeLongIsland, or name Laurie Farber at 516-938-6152 or e mail

— Ron Marge

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