On the Mend

If it’s broken, Suzie Fromer ’94 can fix it.

In need of repairs? Fromer likely knows someone who can help—for free. Since 2022 she has coordinated a growing network of repair cafés in more than 50 communities that stretch across New York state. Her volunteers—many of them retired electrical engineers, others inveterate tinkerers—repair just about anything, from chair legs to zippers to computers to antique radios. The most requested repair? “It’s consistently lamps,” says Fromer. “Number two seems to be vacuum cleaners.” A film major who frequented the Hopkins Center’s jewelry studio and went on to work in film, public relations, and jewelry design, Fromer lives in Irvington, New York, with husband Andrew Hyman ’94 and their two teenagers. 

She first got involved with Repair Café, part of the nonprofit Sustainability Hudson Valley, as a volunteer, repairing jewelry at pop-up events in and around Tarrytown, New York. “Fixers are the glue that makes the repair cafés work, and when one leaves and we need someone to fill that hole, Suzie helps us,” says Jean Curlee, coordinator of the Pleasant Valley Repair Café. “It’s mind-boggling that she knows who we all are and what we need and can keep it all together.” 

The monthly cafés are held at libraries, firehouses, community centers, and churches. In addition to keeping broken items out of the waste stream, the events help preserve repair skills. Fixers frequently train people how to do their own repairs, and Fromer now hosts Zoom workshops for repair training. “I love the spirit of it,” she says. “Neighbors meet neighbors. People are so appreciative. It is so satisfying to problem-solve and fix something.” 

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