Four weeks ago, Sam (I am changing her name and every other name in this article to keep everything confidential) called me to inquire about the possibility of me helping her son and daughter-in-law clean and de-clutter their home in Stuttgart, Arkansas. After she explained the situation, including the fact that she is a passionate follower of Jesus, I suggested a plan that I had been thinking about for months.
You see, my last job was cleaning and de-cluttering an entire house including a garage. This ended up being a huge job that took months of hard work on my part. Because I worked two days a week because the client was not available very much to be there to work with me, I found that it was rather frustrating to see the slow progress. I also could visualize how much more efficient and fast the whole process would be if there was a team working together. More fun, too!
I remember that in the past I did have my kids help me with a super big job. I used my skills of sorting and organizing and delegated the heavy lifting and even sorting to my daughter, son and Robert who made a great team. There was a time crunch on that job so that the house could be sold, and it definitely made sense to get all hands on deck.
When I told Sam my idea of getting a church involved, she loved it. This would save money that could be used for fine-tuning their home, as well as give volunteers in a church a way of serving. Not only that, but they could learn a skill that might be useful in the future as a paid career in professional organizing.
After my first conversation with Sam, I spent hours writing out a rough draft of a proposal which included the goals, how I would train the team, qualifications of the team, the work flow, time line and much more. I was thrilled that she studied many pages of my draft and really saw the vision. When we spoke about ten days later, she said that even how I suggested introducing the idea to Bob and Dawn was helpful. Sam was able to listen to any concerns they had and show that she really cared about them by being present. And, they were excited about the plan! Since the problem with most hoarders is that they have a strong need to know where their stuff is going, I told Sam that she could reassure them that nothing whatsoever would be thrown away, and this she gladly did. Once I get there and build some trust, I am sure that they will agree that I can throw some things that are obviously trash away. But even if they don’t want a single item to be thrown away, I can work with that. The goal is for them to have a clean, de-cluttered house in just three days! Of course there is a follow up plan that will be initiated so that the stuff that is taken out can be dealt with. But having a well-ordered, transformed environment will help them to have clarity of mind and energy to do the second stage of the job more effectively and in a stress-free manner.
I actually was a bit shocked that just with me writing up a plan off the top of my head, first draft, and no questions or concerns from Sam, that this thing was a go. But we had prayed about it from the beginning, and as others found out about the project through Sam, they were praying too.
Sam and I were able to set up a date for me to come for four days, with the first two days being a time where I set up the space so that the volunteer team could easily come and help. This period is when I help the clients figure out what it is that they actually need to have in their environment. Instead of agonizing over what to let go of, they just decide what is most important in order to survive for the next month or so until everything is sorted.
Then on Friday night I will have a 3 hour training for volunteers. Can you believe there is already a volunteer team created? We have enough people, I think, but a few more young people would be great. Sam found a volunteer from a local church who is really excited about the project. Bob and Dawn have a grand son that is looking for work. He is going to help as well, and Dawn hopes that he might discover a talent for helping people this way, and thus find work in this area. Although Sam has some health problems, she is going to be wearing a mask and taking precautions, and thus can be in on the cleaning part of the production.
We are making sure that there are tasks for the clients, Bob and Dawn, so that they can feel included, useful and part of the team. Since they have some health problems, I will discern ahead of time what their role will be. They can even start sorting some things with my shallow box approach. Volunteers will learn to discern what objects that they might want to withhold from the packing process so that the clients can have fun looking through things that might be valuable or precious memories.
My main job now is to collect a whole lot of boxes from my great local sources. I get paid for this because buying boxes is expensive. This way they can be recycled and I can have some extra work as well. Creating the training class is also on my agenda. I have written an outline, but I still need to go over it and make sure I have included all the important details. Perhaps I will find some articles for team members to read ahead of time.
I intend to find a way of documenting the whole process. The clients don’t want to be plastered all over the universe by being featured in some hoarders reality show. But I am hoping they might be willing for me to take pictures before and after and in the process. No one has to know it is their home.
I love the fact that I will be able to bond with team members and clients and really have a dynamic, loving, inspiring time. Everyone is going to grow from this. Everyone will learn. Everyone will feel the sense of satisfaction that comes when people work together to accomplish a big goal.
We are still deciding if I will be training the team further so that after the home is transformed, they can help with the sorting and purging process. This is a great skill to have. if the clients are feeling a sense of trust with the team in the initial job of clearing the house, they most likely will be willing to have them over again. In this state, the clients will need to start deciding what to keep and get rid of. Of course, undecided is always an option in order to make the decisions less stressful. I have found that the less pressure clients have to let go, the more they will let go. And the longer they can concentrate on the job of decision making.
I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to use my organizing skills which I hope will lead to transformed lives of Bob and Dawn. I know that with the support of this wonderful relative to them, Sam, that their lives will be changed in many ways. Having a clear, clean, organized, orderly environment will help their spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and relational health in so many ways. I can’t wait to see it all happen!