Fixer Profiles


Repair Café is supported by our volunteer Fixers who enjoy repairing household items while helping visitors learn the how-to. Our Fixer team has been growing steadily since our launch in 2013. Some of them are professionals while many others are hobbyists. They have diverse backgrounds and each of them has a unique story. Through their profiles, you will learn a little bit about their backgrounds, their volunteering experiences as well as their thoughts about the Repair Café. Below are the first five profiles. Enjoy.

  • Aaron

    Watch Aaron in action

    What kind of items do you fix?

    Household electronics; stereos, appliances etc.

    When did you first start volunteering with Repair Café Toronto?

    May 2013, original fixer

    Day Job

    Software developer

    Favourite Location

    Toronto Reference Library

    Quote

    “Technically, food is never inside your body.”

    Why did you start getting interested in repairing things?

    My mother saw a poster for the first Repair Café. It sounded fun and I liked taking things apart. I’ve been volunteering ever since.

    How did you learn your skills?

    In high school I did math and science, and did engineering at university.

    What does it mean to you to volunteer at Repair Café Toronto?

    It’s a fun thing to do. I help people fix their things and they are very happy when I do.

    What is the most memorable item you have fixed?

    It’s hard to say. I see many of the same things over and over, maybe a DVD player and recorder. I opened it up and replaced all the components and he was so happy.

    Why should people get involved with Repair Café Toronto?

    You can save money, extend the life of your household items, help the environment and learn to fix things yourself. I brought some socks to fix once and now I can do them myself. It’s also a fun social environment.

    Where do you see Repair Café Toronto in five years?

    I imagine we might get so big we’ll need to have two. It’s really been growing the last four years. I hope it keeps growing. Repair Cafés all over the GTA are popping up and I hope to see more if there aren’t already. In five years I’m sure there will still be things breaking and in need of repair.

  • Barb

    What kind of items do you fix?

    I mend clothes. Sometimes I use a machine, but I prefer to hand mend. I love patching jeans and darning holes in sweaters.

    When did you first start volunteering with Repair Café Toronto?

    I am a new volunteer at the Repair Café. I’ve been volunteering there since October 2016.

    Day Job

    Working at a church in a drop-in for people facing homelessness, addiction, mental health issues, etc.

    Quote

    “I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.”
    William James, 1899.

    How did you learn your skills?

    I learned mending skills by making blue jeans fit right, by being influenced by living in India and the Arctic, and by looking at mending posts on Pinterest!

    Favourite Location?

    Toronto Reference Library, and the library at Broadview and Gerrard.

    Why did you start getting interested in repairing things?

    I love mending because it saves the world one pair of blue jeans at a time, and it turns old clothes into works of art. And . . . people in other cultures have always known how to do this.

    What does it mean to you to volunteer at Repair Café Toronto?

    To be a volunteer at the Repair Café means that we can share what we love doing with others. That’s satisfying.

    Most Memorable Repair?

    Why should people get involved with Repair Café Toronto?

    Why should people get involved with the Repair Café? Because everyone has gifts to share and we all benefit from recycling our “stuff” and building community at the same time.

    Where you see Repair Café Toronto in five years?

    Having Repair Cafés in every library, as a normal place to hang out, have things fixed and build community.

  • Bennett

    Watch Bennett in action

    What kind of items do you fix?

    Jewellery and sometimes eyeglasses and watches. Miscellaneous jobs like gluing china or small jobs with metal.

    When did you first start volunteering with Repair Café Toronto?

    November 2014

    Day Job

    Retired Ontario civil servant – Government accountability and risk management

    Favourite Location

    Toronto Reference Library. It is big, has lots of light and lots of space for people to sit. It also has a Balzac’s Coffee. I like all of the locations, the libraries especially. They have a lot of people flowing in and out.

    Quote

    When the great cellist Pablo Casals was 81, someone filming him asked why, at his age, he still practiced four to five hours a day. Casals answered: “Because I think I am making progress.”

    Why did you start getting interested in repairing things?

    I started making pieces of jewellery and learned enough by making complex pieces to know how (and whether) to fix them myself.

    My Mother had broken items in her jewellery box. She would sigh and say “it’s broken” put it away and close the box. I liked the feeling of getting people wearing lovely things again, because jewellery is easy to break but very satisfying to fix.

    Knowing what to do as well as what not to do is important. I was cautious but often enough I could do something to fix it. Once you’ve had a success like that people are very happy.

    How did you learn your skills?

    I learned from making jewellery. I learned lots about glue, I need to learn more about glue though, what to use, what not to use.

    I am now taking silversmithing to understand more about metals.

    What does it mean to you to volunteer at Repair Café Toronto?

    The people who come into the Repair Café really want to wear the things they bring in. I get tons of hardware or “findings” as they call them. It feels so good to give it away and teach customers how to do it, so they can have the satisfaction of doing it themselves. At one point at the Reference library we had three customers working on their own stuff.

    What is the most memorable item you have fixed?

    A lady came in with 26 silver necklaces. She was small and nicely dressed with scarves up to her neck and a silk blouse. She asked me if I could fix her necklaces. I couldn’t see anything, but then she unwrapped her scarves. She had 26 silver necklaces on that looked like a thick garland. She told me she wore them for her health. Eight of them were broken in different ways and two of them needed a silversmith.

    I was able to repair six on the spot; for the other two, I explained how to do the repairs and where to find a person. She walked out with most of the necklaces in good shape and 2 needing more work. I told her she really should polish the necklaces, as when silver gets very black you start losing metal. After I polished the necklaces for her she said, “I like the effect, it looks good.

    Why should people get involved with Repair Café Toronto?

    It’s important to put things to use. Jewellery gives people great pleasure. It’s not essential to life, but people love it and have a strong emotional attachment to it.

    When jewellery is broken people feel unhappy every time they see it. Some of the repairs are quite simple.

    Where you see Repair Café Toronto in five years?

    I’d like to see more groups having Repair Cafés. If people knew in advance there was going to be a Repair Café more often and in their neighbourhood they’d be more likely to go. I’d like to see more people knowing and being taught how to do their own jewellery repairs.

     

  • Leo

    What items do you fix?
    I fix computers mainly, but I also fix mobile devices sometimes as well.

    Day Job
    I’m a high school student.

    When did you first start with working with Repair Café Toronto?
    I first started volunteering with the organization in November of 2016.

    Quote
    Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
    -Steve Jobs

    How did you learn your skills?
    I learned them mostly through my own research and I took one class on computer building.

    What is your favourite location?
    I don’t have a favourite location yet.

    Why/when did you become interested in repairing things?
    I became interested in repairing things when I built my own computer in 2013 and helped a friend do the same. I became interested in repairing things because I liked to help others when I could and repairing computers was a way for me to help people.

    What does it mean to you to volunteer at the Repair Café Toronto?
    It’s another opportunity to help people to the best of my ability. Before I started volunteering at Repair Café, friends would ask me for help sometimes, but I wanted to help more people.  I enjoyed seeing how happy people were when I could fix something for them and I could learn and develop my experience from fixing different problems.

    What is the most memorable item you have repaired?
    I don’t have a particularly memorable item yet.

    Why should people get involved with the Repair Café?
    I think people should get involved because it’s a great cause. Both volunteers and participants can share their skills and help each other while getting items repaired for a much lower cost than at a professional repair shop.

    Where do you see the Repair Café Toronto in five years?
    I hope to see it expand into a larger organization with more volunteers and participants, as well as with multiple events across the city each month instead of just one major event each month.

  • Sera

    What kinds of items do you fix?

    Many daily things and mainly clothing at Repair Cafe

    When did you first start volunteering with Repair Café Toronto?

    January 2017

    Day Job

    Apparel Graphic Designer

    Favourite location

    Quote

    “I impatiently wait to join and fix things at Repair Cafe every month. It is wonderful to solve a problem on every piece I fix either teach how to make it. Exchanging my skills with the reward of happy faces is invaluable.”

    Why did you start to becoming interested in repairing things?

    Since my childhood, as both my parents were quite resourceful in many ways.

    How did you learn your skills?

    I learned almost all my sewing and crafting skills from my mom. She was a great tailor.

    What does it mean to you to volunteer at the Repair Café?

    It is pleasant to be there, so it is kind of a therap. It is also is a great place to socialize with same minded people who stand against wasting

    What is the most memorable (or fun, or challenging) item you have fixed?

    All items are fun to fix for me.

    Why should people get involved with the Repair Café?

    As I said before it is a great place to socialize with similar minded people and to help people. I also like the idea of regaining broken items instead of just throwing them away, supporting the economy and helping to sustain the ecosystem is wonderful. Whoever has any skills or enthusiasm for the values mentioned, should join us.

    Where do you see Repair Café Toronto in 5 years?

    I believe it will spread more and benefit more people in the future.


Fixer Profiles prepared by Geoffrey Mosher