Lindsay Peyton
Paul Savino volunteers regularly as a “fixer” at King County’s “repair time” events. The next event is slated for Earth Day -- from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at Steve Cox Memorial Park Gym, 1321 SW 102nd St. in White Center.

Reduce, reuse, recycle – King County plans repair event for Earth Day in White Center

By Lindsay Peyton

Cassandra Collins keeps an eye on the King County’s Dzrepair timedz events. DzI follow these guys wherever they go,dz she said. DzIt’s worth it to drive. These guys fix everything for free – and they’ve saved me a lot of money.

At the most recent event, held on Saturday, April 8 at the SeaTac Community Center, volunteers soldered a piece of jewelry back together for Collins – and fixed her CHI hair dryer. "I’m a recycler," Collins said. "I don’t like to re-buy.
If I can reuse something, I want to do it. And these guys help me accomplish that.
That’s King County’s mission, after all," Tom Watson, project manager for the EcoConsumer public outreach program, explained.

"We do repair events all over King County to reduce waste, keep things out of landfills and save people money," he said.

All residents have to do is show up with household items -- or even clothing –in need of repair. Volunteers with a variety of specialties are on deck to do the work at no charge –and they earn a small stipend for their time. Alex Vitellaro started volunteering at the events as part of his high school’s robotics team. The group used the stipend to fund their travel to competitions. He’s now attended seven or eight events – and finds the experience rewarding.

"It’s a spectacular way to help the community," he said. "People sit and watch and we explain what we’re doing. It’s an interesting way of learning and teaching. Usually it’s an item they’ve pretty much given up on – and it’s cool to help people out in a way they wouldn’t have imagined."

Paul Savino also volunteers regularly. He teaches woodworking at West Seattle High School. "It feels really good to go into a community where there’s a real need," he said. "To do a good job, make it look as close to factory as can be, that feels good too. It gives people a pride of ownership in their goods."

Retired electrical engineer Bill Roberts has also attended a handful of repair events.
"It’s a win all the way around – for us and for the people coming in to get their stuff fixed," he said. "It keeps stuff out of the landfill – and I’m having fun."

Watson said this is the second year that the county has hosted repair events. "We had some funding available for a reuse program," he said. "We decided to really emphasize south King County’s diverse communities."

Watson said there are often fixers around who speak other languages – and sometimes the county will provide interpreters for the events. It didn’t take long for the community to start attending the repair events. At the first one, fixers had about 20 items. Now Watson estimates they usually fix 70 to 100 each time.

Vacuum cleaners are one of the most common repairs. Other items that frequently show up include fans, heaters, clocks and cooking utensils. Tools and small furniture items are also high on the list. There are volunteers on sewing machines for fixing clothes, patching bags and repairing curtains. While the fixers cannot repair everything, they do have a high success rate, Watson said.

The next repair event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at Steve Cox Memorial Park Gym, 1321 SW 102nd St. in White Center. Since it will also be an Earth Day celebration, King County has planned a fewadditional activities, including a presentation by McLendon Hardware, a DIY lamp repair session and live entertainment.

For more information, visit https://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/ecoconsumer/repair.asp.

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