Repair is teamwork!

On the sunny afternoon of March 24, the Repair Café team visited Cedarbrae Library in Scarborough. The library is a beautiful space recently renovated. We set up various repair stations in the atrium and the auditorium. Thanks to the terrific support of our host library staff, the café ran smoothly. Many broken items were brought back to life. Our volunteers and visitors had a great time working together.

In this post, we have included not only repair stories from this café but also interviews with some of the volunteers who enjoy giving their time to make each event so organized and welcoming.

Our book fixer Faith (second from left in the photo below) shared her repair story about her young visitor, Annalee (first from left).

“7-year-old Annalee brought in a beloved book of Robert Munsch stories that had been given to her as a present when she was little. The cover was torn and partially missing. Pages had fallen out. I took the book apart and removed the old glue and some fabric (called mull). Then Annalee helped me glue the pages together, with new mull attached to them. Next, we constructed a new cover for the book, using the front and back covers, a piece of file folder (which Annalee cut), and some black book cloth. We attached the cover to the pages of the book. Finally, we glued in some Japanese paper to help keep the first couple of pages and the last page from falling out. Annalee helped by preparing the pieces of Japanese paper (painting them with a thin line of water and pulling them apart where the water made them soft) and applying the glue.”

Below is Annalee with her book fixed. She will be able to use it for many more years to come.

Below is Andy (right), and his visitor after a successful repair. Andy has been Faith’s mentor, and the two of them currently make up the book fixing team.

We were glad to be able to help different visitors with their items. Below are a few more examples of successful fixes at this event.












A big part of the success of Repair Café comes from our greeters and registration volunteers. At this café, our photographer, Julie Trinh, interviewed a few of them to learn about their thoughts on their volunteering experience. Below are their conversations.

Interview with Mariana

Julie: What is your role?

Mariana: I’m a greeter and I’m responsible for the flip chart most of the time

Julie: How long have you been volunteering with us?

Mariana: Since January 2017.

Julie: What does it mean for you to volunteer?

Mariana: Coming here is something that makes sense for me. Everyday in life we make so many decisions. So many things that I do just because I have to and I don’t even think about it. But when I come here I feel like it’s meaningful, I feel like it makes sense coming and it makes sense in terms of sustainability, ideologically and it makes me feel important

Julie: What do you enjoy about your role?

Mariana: I have the chance to meet so many different people, to interact with different cultures, to learn more and to exercise patience. I’m learning to get to know people and to get to know different routines.

Julie: Can you share a memorable experience that you’ve had?

Mariana: I’ve had a lot. It’s been only a year and 3 months but I feel like I’ve had a lot.

First, there was a visitor who came with his laptop, and he came in and we were all engaged to try to find the cable for him. Everyone of us was sitting on the floor, looking from box to box, to try and find the cable that could fit so then we could work on his laptop.

Another moment was when I saw Tim fixing a keyboard from an elderly Japanese man who used to work in a church. He needed the keyboard to play and we did the entire repair from scratch. He was very happy when he left. It was amazing.

Interview with Peter

Julie: What is your role?

Peter: I call it “whiteboard triage”. You know when you go to a hospital in an emergency, you go and talk to a nurse and the nurse decides how long you’re going to have to wait pending on the nature of your need to be seen? We do something similar here. It’s first come first serve. The people get on the list on the flipchart and then we put them together with the appropriate fixer as fast as we can.

Julie: How long have you been volunteering with us?

Peter: About 2 and a half years.

Julie: What does it mean for you to volunteer?

Peter: It’s a good feeling that things are getting reused and fixed instead of just being thrown away. People are learning that just because something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that you have to throw it away and buy a new one. It often means you can get it fixed.

Julie: What do you enjoy about your role?

Peter: I guess it’s something I can do as part of the team that is useful. I do a lot of fixing myself but I don’t feel that I can do it well enough to do it publicly. When I watch some of the guys who do it here, they’re really very gifted, the lot of them.

Interview with Judy (right photo: left)

Julie: What is your role?

Judy: I greet people when they come in, ask them what they have to be repaired, take their information, and then send them on their way.

Julie: How long have you been volunteering with us?

Judy: We’ve been doing this for about 5 years and I was close to the beginning, maybe within 2 or 3 months of the start.

Julie: What does it mean for you to volunteer?

Judy: I really enjoy it. I like all the people I’ve met. I like the other volunteers and I like the visitors.

Julie: What do you enjoy about your role?

Judy: Hearing their story, and seeing what they have and chatting to them.

Interview with Chemayne (photo above: right)

Julie: What is your role?

Chemayne: I help to register people.

Julie: How long have you been volunteering with us?

Chemayne: Not very long. I’ve done a couple of events. I’m quite a new volunteer here.

Julie: What does it mean for you to volunteer?

Chemayne: I’m a financial advisor and basically, I found that this organization was very much aligned to what I do. Helping people repair things instead of getting rid of them, which ultimately saves money is what I believe in. I think that’s a very nice thing to do and its a lot of community building. I like the mission of the organization so that’s why I’m here.

Julie: What do you enjoy about your role?

Chemayne: It’s wonderful, the people are very nice, I’m very new and am starting to get to know people and build relationships. I get to meet a lot new people and I believe in the whole volunteering aspect of doing things and solving a problem together as a community. I really like that. I also hope I could do much more in the sense that I can bring the resources that I have and share them with people out here if they’re interested.

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We would like to thank all our volunteers who have been generously donating their time to support Repair Café.

Repair Café has a growing volunteer team. If you are interested in joining our team to become a general volunteer, fixer or apprentice fixer, please visit the Volunteer page. Of course you are also welcome to join one of our cafes as a visitor.

Our next café will be held at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. For our event calendar, visit the Upcoming Events page.

Hope to see you at the Repair Café soon!


Photographs by Julie Trinh