Friday, August 19, 2022
Aug. 19, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Repair Clark County offers in-person events after two years of remote fixing

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
6 Photos
Repair Clark County volunteer Ken Olsen examines the tape deck of a stereo Wednesday at the Artillery Barracks at the For Vancouver National Historic Site. The Repair Clark County program is holding in-person events again after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Repair Clark County volunteer Ken Olsen examines the tape deck of a stereo Wednesday at the Artillery Barracks at the For Vancouver National Historic Site. The Repair Clark County program is holding in-person events again after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Artillery Barracks at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site were bustling with activity Wednesday afternoon. At tables, volunteers were focused on rewiring lamps, mending pants, sharpening knives and tinkering with clocks.

Throughout the afternoon, electronics sprung back to life, illumination returned to darkened lamps and tears vanished from tattered clothing. Every item brought into the building was broken, and nearly every item left repaired.

The Repair Clark County program fixes hundreds of items every year. At the events, anyone can bring small household appliances, lamps, electronics, torn clothing, jewelry, knives and tools for volunteers to repair, patch and sharpen at no charge. The event is hosted by the environmental education nonprofit Columbia Springs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the program implemented the “Repair Goes Remote” program so volunteers could continue fixing from their homes. Wednesday’s event was the first in-person repair event in more than two years.

“While the remote program has given us some distinct advantages, we certainly miss the social aspect of in-person fixing,” program coordinator Terra Heilman said. “We’re so happy to be partnering with the Historic Trust to bring back these dynamic events.”

At Wednesday’s event, volunteers repaired 51 items with a repair rate of 94 percent, according to Heilman.

While many volunteers continued fixing throughout the pandemic, many were excited to return.

“When we went from the in-person program to the remote program, I found it a lot less satisfying because there wasn’t that personal contact,” said Bob Connon, a Vancouver resident who has volunteered with the program for five years.

Throughout the day, Connon worked on fixing three identical clocks and a cross statuette.

“I fixed three clocks today, but one of them still has a problem. But now the person who brought them in is saying, ‘I can do it. I saw you do it. I can do that now,’ ” he said. “It almost feels like you’re doing more when people take that attitude, when they work with you and take it over themselves. You teach a person how to fish, right?”

Connon said a lot of people bring in sentimental items, and it feels good to help people return those items to their former glory.

“I’ve seen a lot of things that have been inherited,” he said.

Another volunteer, Rudi Fruth, spent part of the day repairing a remote-control car.

“I got it going, and then I had to test it for a long time,” he said. “The little kid in me came out.”

Fruth has been participating as a volunteer for four years. He enjoys tinkering with all kinds of items, he said, and he likes keeping things from heading to the landfill.

The event is part of Columbia Springs’ waste reduction program. The organization receives a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology that allows it to keep the program running. All the fixers are volunteers, however.

“If we can keep items in use and give them an extended life, that’s way better than even recycling,” Heilman said. “Recycling is important, but by and large, fixing items is way, way better.”

To learn more about the Repair Clark County program, or to find upcoming events, visit columbiasprings.org/repair-clark-county/.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo
Loading...