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Repair Clinic offers wide range of support, one stitch at a time

  • Volunteers at the Repair Clinic have done hundreds of fixes for students since 2017.
  • Volunteers at the Repair Clinic have done hundreds of fixes for students since 2017.
  • Volunteers at the Repair Clinic have done hundreds of fixes for students since 2017.
  • Volunteers at the Repair Clinic have done hundreds of fixes for students since 2017.

Posted on March 16, 2020

Sitting in Vincent Dellaria's closet was a duffel bag suffering the effects of overstuffing last semester. It broke and was unusable but he didn't want to throw it away.

He brought the bag to a recent Repair Clinic, a regular event on campus where Grand Valley volunteers help with textile repairs such as replacing zippers and fixing straps on bags amid easy conversation and the offering of additional resources such as academic advising.

Dellaria said he realized while at the clinic that his messenger bag had a tear, so he got that fixed as well.

"I walked out of there with two bags that are completely repaired and I'm so happy that I don't have to spend money on another one," said Dellaria, a graduate student studying college student affairs leadership.

He said he was also impressed with the atmosphere, which he called relaxed and conducive to helping students.

That is the atmosphere the volunteers hope to create at the event, a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Housing and Residence Life. Twice an academic year, volunteers make repairs using their own sewing equipment and teach students how to knit.

The repairs help take a pesky problem off busy students' to-do list, free of charge, while the overall vibe is one of support. Additional features are more formal, such as the academic advising and healthy snacks, while the event also leads to productive informal conversations around such topics as study tips, said Monica Johnstone, CLAS director of communications and advancement and a key organizer of the event.

The most recent clinic resulted in 69 fixes, ranging from hemmed pants to mended coats to a dress converted to a romper, Johnstone said, bringing the total number of repairs since the clinic started in 2017 to 360.

She said a $300 grant from the Sustainability Reinvestment Fund helped boost the quantity and quality of repairs with a bigger selection of supplies. And she noted the spirit of the clinic even touches those not affiliated with Grand Valley who want to help.

"Between the volunteers and the supporters, there is a lot of generosity being tapped for our students," Johnstone said.