NEWBURGH – Several dozen people from across the Hudson Valley flocked to lower Broadway in Newburgh on Saturday, March 2, from noon to 4 p.m., for the City’s first-ever Repair Café. It was held at Grit Works, a cooperative workspace for artists and other creative entrepreneurs, next door to the historic Ritz Theater.
Local residents came with all kinds of broken items to have them repaired for free by various experts from the Repair Café of the Hudson Valley network.
Repair Cafés began in Europe and have spread across the U.S. in recent years. Several are thriving in the Hudson Valley, including in New Paltz, Kingston, Cornwall, Gardiner, Warwick, Woodstock, Rosendale and now the City of Newburgh.
“Our goal is to transform our throw-away economy and preserve and transmit traditional repair skills,” said Orange County Legislator KevindaryánLuján. Luján organized the Newburgh event along with IMPACT, Inc. (Individuals Making Positive Advancements in their Communities Together), Founder and CEO Damian DePauw and Grit Works owners David Deleo and Eric Jarmann.
The event’s attendees brought lamps and other small appliances, bikes, vacuums, TVs, wooden chairs, digital devices and much more to be fixed. On hand were experts in small appliances, woodworking, and welding, to assist and educate the public.
“My husband and I brought four dull kitchen knives, and an expert got them all razor-sharp using a device called a ‘whetstone’ that he taught us how to use. He also told us where to buy one,” said Newburgh resident Genie Abrams. “This was an amazing event, and I’m telling all my friends about it.”
“Today’s event was attended by people from all over and it brought our community together; that is precisely what we want – people coming to Newburgh and seeing the energy in our city. The repair café is a great opportunity to help our neighbors with their broken items, while improving civic engagement through volunteerism and service learning.” said DePauw.
“Any time you are able to repurpose, reuse, recycle or repair something it is a huge success, not only for our community but for our environment. Our landfills are filled with items that often require minimal work to fix. In the spirit of sustainability, we wanted to offer our community a valuable resource and a chance to learn something new,” said Luján.
Jarmann added, “In the future, we hope to have workshops while people wait for their items to be fixed, add a system in which follow-up appointments can be made at Grit Works for items that may take longer than a day to repair, and have a corner for children where they can get a hands-on experience learning about how things work. We are proud to be working for our neighbors, doing a job that will save them money, reduce waste and possibly allow them to hold on to things that have been in their family for years.”
Newburgh’s free Repair Cafés are expected to take place quarterly, with the next one planned in conjunction with Newburgh’s Last Saturday on April 21, 2019 at Grit Works from 12pm-4pm.