A dream come true: Leading a team to de-clutter, clean and organize an entire house

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!

 

 

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A letter I sent to some peace-loving Jesus Followers: Greg, Shane, and Bruxy

Greetings

I hope you like the bumper sticker that I enclosed in this packet.  I am sending it to you for two reasons.  First, I hope that you might want to put this bumper sticker somewhere public (like your carJ) and share the message. Second, because I wanted to help my friend, Linda Williams, who wrote these words, promote the message of peace.  An article is coming out in the Church of The Brethren newsletter about how these words on bumper stickers, t-shirts, signs and other places have positively affected people. Also, well-known people such as Tony Campola are endorsing this phrase.

I am sending this to three of my favorite followers of Jesus who support the non-violent part of the message of Jesus.  You are: Shane Claiborne, Greg Boyd, and Bruxy Cavey.  If you don’t know each other, I hope you will get to know each other!  I know Bruxy and Greg are acquainted—but I want to be sure to get Shane in the loop.  Bruxy:  http://www.themeetinghouse.com   Greg:  http://www.whchurch.org   Shane:  http://www.thesimpleway.org

If you feel inspired to send a comment about this phrase that could be used in the article or elsewhere, I would really appreciate it. I hope that it might benefit you all by getting what you are doing out to an even wider audience.  My contact info is below. You can call if you like. If you want to do a video clip, that would be great as well. I can transpose the words.

I have personally been in contact with you either by phone, email, or in person—and I have studied and experienced your teachings extensively.  Members of my community, Wellspring Community, have also been blessed by your work. We all are so grateful to you for all that you are doing to help bring the Kingdom of God on earth. Thank you! We will be praying for you.

Shalom,

Patricia Mikkelson           228 E. Ella Ave, Fayetteville, AR  72701  479-313-0414

livablefutureproject@gmail.com         http://www.wellspringcommunity.us

 

 

Last minute kindness acts at a birthday party

Chris and Mahriyanna were invited to a friend’s birthday party who wanted to do funny, harmless pranks in a public venue.  Chris persuaded him to do some kind actions as well, and so about an hour of the three hour event was dedicated to kind actions like opening doors for people; giving high fives, putting positive post it notes in the bathrooms saying things like, “You are beautiful,” and giving away pin wheels to children.  With six young people spending an hour of kindness, that equals 6 hours of random acts of kindness.

They also left an extra generous tip and a kind note for the waitress when they ate out afterwards.

If it weren’t for the compassion games, I wonder if all those kind actions would have happened.  From now on, our community is going to be more focused than ever figuring out how to incorporate kind, compassionate actions in our every day lives.  Already, my kids are planning a day of kindness where they are going out with some friends in their youth group, Fun, Fellowship and Service.

More random acts of kindness to report for the Compassion Games

Today is the last day of the Fayetteville Compassion games.  This has been a fun ten days, but the time has flown by way too fast. I wish that I had stopped by the Fayetteville Library to pick up some info to share with all the people we have interacted with, but I foresee that there will be more games in the future.  This could catch on!

Thanks to Christy Pollack for posting these in a way that can be counted.  I definitely would not have time to enter them in the proper way.  Okay, I’m taking a deep breath and sharing the many acts of kindness that I and others in my community have experienced in the past few days.  If you have last minute acts of kindness to report, you can send them to her at ckp4all@gmail.com

I spent $10 buying supplies like balloons, post it notes, fake mustaches, and balls to give away to a group of young people including my kids, Mahriyanna and Chris,  who are going to get together this evening at some places in Fayetteville to inspire creative acts of kindness as a way of celebrating a friends’ birthday.

While buying those things I asked the clerk if she had experienced any acts of kindness. She excitedly told me that a lawyer had given her free services for something that was very important to her.

The young man who carried my groceries and the boxes I had collected for an organizing job was most kind and was very interested in the Compassion Games.  He was very careful to help me pack my boxes so that they would fit.

While trying to make left turn in very bad traffic this afternoon, I noticed that some motorcyclists waited about five minutes so that people like me could make a left turn.

Mahriyanna and I got to the farmer’s market late and someone gave us squash, peppers and okra for free. Another vendor gave us a big basket of tomatoes and two big baskets of beans for only $10.

Someone asked me where Baum Stadium was, and I very patiently and kindly gave him directions.

Mahriyanna held the door open for someone at Dollar General, where both of the clerks were kind in many ways.

While in the Walgreen’s parking lot, a grandmother and her two grandkids were getting out of the car. The little boy was dressed in a super hero outfit.  I asked, “Are you getting ready for Halloween?”  and grandma said, “No, he just likes to be a super hero.”  The kids were super friendly. The grandma realized she knew me from the Mary Lightheart tree sit. She asked me about a pro-life sign in our car, and I told her about how my kids coordinate a group called Fun, Fellowship and Service where they support all kinds of positive things. She was so encouraging and positive.

Mahriyanna and I went to a 40 days for Life rally in front of the Planned Parenthood on Joyce avenue where we will be praying against abortion and for raising awareness about how abortion takes away innocent lives for 40 days.  Many people kindly honked their support.  A young man came from Conway and a grandmother, her husband, daughter and grand daughter came from Missouri to share their testimonies about how their lives were positively changed because the decision for abortion was not made.  Many, many kind actions happened with so many people volunteering to make this event possible.  I estimate at least 20 hours of volunteer hours were given to make this event happen today.

Mahriyanna complimented a young woman on a bag she had, which lead to a brief conversation about how the young woman got the bag while on a missions trip to Guatamala.

While at ONF, our local healthfood store, I noticed two customers talking. “Am I in your way,” one kindly asked.  “Oh, no you are fine.”  They were so polite and kind that I felt inspired to tell them, “I am going to report you to the Compassion Game authorities,” which resulted in a nice conversation about the Compassion Games.

A woman gave me a really big smile for no reason while I was in ONF. I then saw her in the parking lot. Another big smile.  I smiled back.

When I was riding on the trail, I determined to smile at every single rider or pedestrian no matter what my expectations.  About 79% smiled back!

I called the Fayetteville city to report that there are giant and dangerous pot holes which probably resulted from the rain washing out recent gas line work.  I hope that was kind:)

One of my clients told me that her neighbor helped fix a friends computer for free.

Robert Kersbergen is going to be donating at least seven hours of work to over see a crew to make the foundation for Cliff Mikkelson’s home.  Chris and other friends of the community will be helping out as well, resulting in a work party of about 23 hours of volunteer time.

I’m not sure if this counts, but when checking out of a store, I said, “I don’t need a bag.  Save the ocean. I hear that there are lots of plastic bags coming together in the ocean.  The bagger, older man, agreed with me and said, “I just saw a documentary about how an island is being formed by plastic bags and it is now gathering dirt and plants are growing on it.” I thought that this was very kind that he would support my statement and show concern for the earth.

When I was trying to start my car, it wouldn’t start right away.  “Please be kind, dear car,” I said. Then it started.  Do kind machines count?

I spent 35 minutes typing up this report. Does that count? Wow! Time flies when you are having fun and thinking of kind actions which have happened.

Let the kindness begin…Wellspring Community participates in the Compassion Games

“The Compassion Games are designed to make our communities safer, kinder, more just, and better places to live. No matter where you are you can perform a Random Act of Kindness, or become a Secret Agent of Compassion and receive a secret mission for each of the eleven days.”  http://www.compassiongames.org
Wellspring Community members agreed at our last meeting that we would participate in this. So I am keeping track of the kind acts so we can send it in the appropriate authorities.  This is one time when getting a report is a good thing!  I joke with people and say, “I’m going to report you to the compassion game folks for that kind thing that you just did”  We are reframing negative gossip to positive gossip. And, I know some might think that to brag about the kind things that you do is either unbiblical or not humble.  But I think that this is like giving testimonies. As a follower of Jesus, I like to brag on how much he is doing through me.  I hope you will join us. And if you want to keep your kind acts secret, just say someone else did it.
Okay, here is a list.  Each thing only took a minute or two as you can see. Many of them are very small things.  But multiply these kind acts by a hundred or a thousand or a million–and I think that we might just have a kindness epidemic.  Maybe a critical mass of kindness would happen and some of those not so kind people might catch the bug.
Chris goes out of his way to hold doors open for people about six time.
Chris notices that people have stopped for him when he was riding his bike. Legally, they did not have to stop.
Chris let people go in front of him twice while driving since the BBB traffic is pretty intense.
Cliff: While going to a concert with 4 young friends, I wanted to stop at a department store on the way. I decided to give them each a ten dollar allowance so they could buy something, too.  We were at the store for about 20 minutes and I donated about 35 dollars. This was a random act by one person.
Then two of the young people  turned around and bought thoughtful gifts for their parents.
Patricia’s kind acts:
Driving down MLK approaching school. I see a motorcyclist to my left.  I smile and call out, “Welcome to Fayetteville. ”  The guy says, “Where’s Dickson Street?”  I give him quick directions, and say, “Do you want to cut in front of me.”  He does and is able to make a right turn to get on track.
Driving East on Razorback Road approaching fifteen st.  I am not sure who goes next in the four way stop. I notice a  motorcyclist to my left.  I wave him past, and he wave at me as he went by.
I think each of these things could be counted as a kind act.
Io to a copy shop where I am copying bumper stickers saying, “I think when Jesus said to love your enemies he probably meant not to kill them.”  I am sending these to famous Christians who promote non-violence to see if I can get endorsements for my friend who wrote this phrase.
I see a person who has a very sour expression on her face.  The clerk is kind and patient in spite of what appears to be some needs for perfection on her part.
I tell the clerk that I thought he was kind and patient with that client.
I had to wait a very long time for that client just to ask a simple question.  When the clerk noticed me struggling, he asked me if he could help me.and he quickly did without needing to interrupt his work for the client.
While I was driving home from the above errand, I was in deep thought about the compassion games.  I looked in my rear view mirror and was shocked to see a familiar box about 50 feet away behind my car in front of a pick up. A man was getting out of the truck and putting stuff back in the box.  I waited about 5 minutes trying to turn left so the guy could follow me onto a side street, but before I could turn, the guy ran up to my car, put the box in, slammed my hatchback and ran back to his truck.
I saw someone at ONF the local healthfood store. I had posted something I was really happy about on my facebook, and she said, “I am so happy for you. That is great!”
I saw the same person also took great care to pack some fragile item in a customer’s bag.
I was working for some people out in their yard, and noticed that the couple I work for took over some food to their neighbor.  I later learned that his wife was recovering from surgery and they were helping her out.
I noticed the same neighbor giving his neighbors some vegetables.
When I was trying to turn right on Dickson Street today, there was a steady stream of pedestrians crossing the road.  I heard the  person in the left lane say he wanted to turn right. So I called out to him, “you can go first.”
Then some pedestrians stopped for that car.  Then some others stopped for me so I could go.
I met a young man where I was working for a client.  He said that my client had taken him in because he was about to be homeless.  That same client has taken in a another young man who needed some help.
My daughter noticed that a neighbor of ours who we usually enthusiastically say hello to first–was the first to enthusiastically say “Hello, how are you.” to us with a big smile.
At Aldi’s there were three kind things that happened:
When I went into the store, immediately the clerk said, “Can I help you?”  I said I needed a quarter so I can get a shopping cart. He immediate went into his drawer and got me the change.
When I was done with my cart, I noticed a lady who was almost done with her cart.  I went up to her holding out a quarter, and asked her if she wanted me to take her cart.  She was super grateful because she said she was out of breath.
Then I left a quarter in the shopping cart so that the next person could get a free cart.  I prayed that someone who really needed it might find it.
When I was driving down School in particularly bad traffic, I let two people turn left in front of me (without being in a dangerous place)
I saw another car do the same.
Mahriyanna, (17) kindly asked a cashier how their day was going.  (I think when teens reach out it really touches people even more than an adult)
Mahriyanna opened the door for someone at the farmer’s coop.
Patricia saw young people collecting food from various farmers at the farmer’s marker in order to give them to churches that make meals for poor people.
Three things happened–young people collecting, farmers giving. Organizations feeding.
Farmers at the Fayetteville Farmer’s market always give Patricia big smiles and give me good deals. I just give them my budgeted money and tell them to give me what they can.  We always have a win-win situation.
At the Professional Women’s networking meeting last Tuesday,  a young woman from Uraquay attended.  She and her fiancé really want to move here.  People were very kind to her with advice on getting a job.  She said, “I am always so amazed at how kind people are here in Fayetteville. I have been overwhelmed with kindness.”
THe owner of Nightbird Books has been very kindly hosting the professional women’s network for years including last Tuesday.
Jeanette Balleza very kindly always facilitates this professional women’s organization meeting every month from which many people benefit. She facilitated one last Tuesday.
For each Report (Activity)
1) A brief description of the action(s) performed.
2) How many people helped perform it and for how long (this will give me the total number of hours volunteered.)
3) Amount monies collected (or donated.)
4) Was it a random act by one and all, or a service group effort with a planned activity?
The location/community will be Fayetteville, as we are the sponsoring group.
You can either send it to ckp4all@gmail.com who will put it on the compassion map,  or go to www.compassiongames.org and learn about their mapping system where you can enter your information directly.
Thanks to Christy Pollack for being willing to enter this information so those of us with minimal time can spend more time on acts of kindness.