MAPLEWOOD, NJ -  Ever wondered what to do with that broken vase or ripped sleeve you just never seem to get around to getting fixed? Now there's an answer here in SOMA: bring it to the Repair Cafe.

Cathy Rowe, the Coordinator of SOMA: Two Towns for All Ages, helped organize their first Repair Cafe, which was held on Saturday, October 21 at the Morrow Memorial Church.

No appointment was needed, and everyone was welcome to bring in items of all kinds - and with all kinds of histories - for repair from one of the expert volunteers at the event. Some people brought in items for repair, and then stayed and helped others fix their items as well.

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At the Jewelry Repair station, vounteer Joyce Andrasz carefully choose which glue would work best for each repair.

At another station Julie Martini hand-sewed a leg back onto a favorite stuffed doll for a child, and reattached a closure to a bonnet.

"The Repair Cafe is an all age community building event, and we’ve had all ages today," said Rowe. "The younger kids have grown-up with disposables, but today they were exposed to the expertise of repairing items to extend their usefulness."

Rowe said there was a steady flow of people throughout the day, and that there were at least 40 people who came with items, and a total of 63 items that were repaired, or attempted to be repaired. Repair tallies were:

  • 5 bikes
  • 12 lamps
  • 10 Pieces of jewelry
  • 5 pieces of furniture
  • 24 electrical items
  • 7 pieces of clothing

Rowe also noted that one of the volunteers, Drew Harteveld, altered a dress that was worn later that night to the Columbia High School homecoming dance with “no wardrobe malfunctions."

Lorraine Graves of South Orange, who  first suggested the idea of a Repair Cafe to Rowe. Graves explained, "I had been watching a webinar about Repair Cafe and noted that it had been started in Norway 5 years ago, and felt it would be a perfect fit for our community."

Rowe said that they plan to hold additional Repair Cafes on a regular basis. 

"We are the first in New Jersey, however in the Hudson Valley there are eight communities operating Repair Cafes on an every-other-month schedule. I think we should try to hold this once a quarter here in SOMA," said Rowe, adding, "It was better than we hoped, and we plan to do one again in a few months."