Waste Not, Want Not
Citizen Ship
Posted: May 01, 2023
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    A volunteer fixes clothing. (Courtesy of WNC Repair Cafe)
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    Dan Hettinger started WNC Repair Cafe. (Courtesy of WNC Repair Cafe)
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    Peggy Carlson helped Marc Czarnecki hem a pair of pants. (Amy Auten)
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    At Repair Cafe events, volunteers help people fix broken items. They often also teach the skills needed for others to make their own future repairs. (Amy Auten)
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    Kids bring their plush pals to WNC Repair Cafe for some stitches. (Courtesy of WNC Repair Cafe)
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Peggy Carlson walked into the local library with a sewing machine in tow. She headed for a classroom. With a warm smile, she offered her sewing services. WNC (Western North Carolina) Repair Cafe staff gave her volunteer paperwork and set her up at a table. Marc Czarnecki approached her with dress pants. They needed hemming. Her sewing machine whirred.

In this space, repair needs and community meet. Mrs. Carlson is a retired speech therapist. She is also a gifted seamstress. Mr. Czarnecki volunteers with WNC Repair Cafe. That evening in March, he enjoyed the benefits of another volunteer’s skills.

Sometimes a broken toaster ends up on a shelf in the garage. A shirt missing buttons gets shoved to the back of the drawer. Often, such items just go into the trash.

Dan Hettinger of Asheville helped start WNC Repair Cafe. Since 2017, he has organized events that invite people to bring in broken things. Volunteers troubleshoot and repair. Sometimes they even teach others how to do their own repairs.

Mr. Hettinger first wanted to keep clothes out of landfills. He also was inspired by a man from Beckley, West Virginia. That man fixed broken bicycles. He brought them to a flea market. He gave away repaired bikes and helmets to any child who wanted one. “It was such a simple and direct way to give back to his community,” says Mr. Hettinger.

People are good stewards when they work to salvage what they already have. Mr. Hettinger notes, “Fixing things is almost always easier than you think. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking for help.”

Why? Passing along wisdom, training, knowledge, and skills of all types is a natural outworking of biblical community. Sometimes practical efforts can begin to build that type of community where it has been lacking.

Pray God helps us reach out to our communities to pool resources, salvage goods, and make friendships.