West Central residents get free repairs at Fix-it Fair

March 24, 2019

The way Dennis Robinson sees it, Fort Wayne’s historic West Central neighborhood was crying out for an event like the one he organized for Saturday.

Having heard about so-called fix-it cafés from a relative in the Orlando, Florida, area where the events have become trendy, Robinson thought a Fix-it Fair would be a good way for his church at 729 W. Washington Blvd. to reach out to its neighborhood.

“People in West Central, they love old things, and they don’t like to throw things away. A lot are fixing up old homes, so they appreciate fixing old things,” he said.

In St. John Lutheran Church’s gym, Robinson and his helpers assembled 10 local experts willing to work for free on everything from cantankerous computers to balky bicycles.

Traffic at the repair stations wasn’t brisk shortly before noon. But Robinson said very little publicity went out, and he said he hoped the event would catch on as it is repeated.

Robinson said he’d like to make the fair at least annual, and perhaps seasonal. Spring seems to be a good time because people are doing spring cleaning and finding neglected items, he said.

“Everybody has something in their house that’s broken and they intend to get it fixed, but they don’t,” he said.

Amateur seamstress Bri Fraze of Fort Wayne had her work cut out for her : a pile of dress pants that needed hemming. She had just finished fixing a torn comforter with sewing skills she learned in 4-H Club.

“Dress pants are the worst. They’re never the right length,” she said.

Fixer-upper physician Bob Wilkins of Fort Wayne had a pile of knives in front of him : mostly from the church’s kitchen. He was busily putting them through an electric sharpener.

His to-do pile also contained long-handled pruning shears and kitchen scissors.

“Somebody brought in an old reel lawnmower,” he said, adding he felt bad that he was unable to work on its blades.

“It’s not that hard to do, but you need valve grinding compound,” he said. “I don’t know where to get it anymore.”

Carolyn Shelton of New Haven had better luck.

She brought some broken costume jewelry : a black bead and silver-tone necklace and a long gold-toned chain she had tried to fix with a safety pin.

Deb Waybright of Fort Wayne, a jewelry-making hobbyist, was happy to help.

“You got it! Oh my goodness. Look at this!” Shelton said, holding up the finished chain.

The necklace is “probably 20 years old,” but she reaches for it a lot, Shelton said.

“That’s why they break,” said Weybright, smiling. “It’s always the ones you like to wear.”