Marblehead women build business by clearing clutter

Pack rats beware.MARBLEHEAD ? Two Marblehead women are ready to take on clutter wherever and whenever such disorganization rears its ugly head.Professional organizers Denise King and Ellen Potash, owners of Clear the Clutter, will conduct free public seminars on Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. and Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Marblehead Council on Aging, 1 Humphrey St.According to King, senior citizens can be especially vulnerable to clutter when overtaken by a lifetime of possessions. Since the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has designated January and “Get Organized Month”, the entrepreneurs decided to share their expertise with the community.As members of NAPO’s New England chapter, the second largest in the U.S. with more than 100 professional organizers in its ranks, King and Potash hope to provide valuable advice to senior citizens and their respective caregivers, as well as those planning to take on such a role in the near future.”Seniors will gain a sense of freedom and control by organizing a lifetime of possessions,” said King, noting that the seminars will include topics such as weeding out junk mail, dealing with telemarketers, downsizing, and, passing on family treasures.Clear the Clutter, which was recently awarded the Best of Boston Home 2008 distinction by Boston Magazine, works with both residential and commercial clients. The women organize closets, kitchens, garages, attics, basements, bedrooms, bathrooms and home offices. They attempt to re-design these spaces for optimum efficiency.”We mostly concentrate on residential customers,” said Potash, a former middle- and high school social studies teacher and ex-travel agent. “But as members of NAPO, we have at our fingertips other organizers who specialize in working with clients with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or who are chronically disorganized.”Some professional organizers also focus on clients who may be experiencing major life transitions where organizational skills add calm and ease stress, she said. Other specialists are geared toward such services as electronic and paper information management; time management; and inventory and assets control.The problem of clutter among the elderly was raised last October, when the town’s Board of Health approved the formation of a task force. “The task force was created to address hoarding and chronic disorganization issues among the elderly,” said Potash, noting that its representatives hail from the Council on Aging, the Board of Health, the Marblehead Counseling Center, North Shore Elder Services, and town’s police and fire departments, professional organizers, and the owners of Clear the Clutter.King said the task force attempts to educate the public, identify people at risk and intervene in a non-threatening way. “Hoarding and chronic disorganization, while not confined to a particular demographic, bring serious health and safety issues to the elderly, which often go unrecognized until the police or fire departments are called in an emergency,” she said.The task force is currently seeking resource information from community groups and civic organizations, private companies and individuals interested in assisting senior citizens with tasks that may be too demanding or overwhelming n i.e. trash removal, snow shoveling, and small odd jobs around the house.”Paper is the No. 1 enemy, followed by laundry as No. 2,” said Potash. “Those are the common denominators in many homes, as are too many toys in homes with new parents. We try to get them to put into practice a few simple systems on a daily basis to prevent the build up. We go to the home and sit down with the clients, work with them. They have to be there. We just don’t go into somebody’s house to clean it.”Potash said clients must participate in the sorting and, ultimately, the disposal or donation of possessions. “We have to first get to a point that allows us to see what we have. Most times, we have more than enough to work with even after we’ve clea

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