[Ypsilanti] Professional organizers help charity
By Marsha Johnson Chartrand, Heritage Newspapers
Local chapter donates time to SOS
Who hasn’t watched one of those "makeover" shows
on television and wished that it could be their own place that got
a slick new look — usually including some great ideas to better
organize the home or office.
Professional organizers from the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the
National Association of Professional Organizers donated their time
last Thursday and Friday to help SOS Community Services organize
a supply room, food pantry and staff person’s office.
In addition, the group helped design a plan to organize a records
These somewhat daunting tasks were tackled with enthusiasm and efficiency
by Betty Huotari of Fenton, Logical Placement; Sara Bassett of Freedom
Township, Organizing Concepts; Alana Martin of Ann Arbor, Winged
Pig; Sherri Traylor of Novi, Ideal Organizing Solutions; and Debbie
Tebbe of St. Clair Shores, Organized Happy Helper.
GO (Get Organized) Month is an annual event in January to raise
awareness about professional organizing in residences, home offices
and commercial settings. SOS Community Services provides food distribution,
housing and other assistance in Washtenaw County.
Professional organizers can help residents, businesses and nonprofit
organizations de-clutter their homes, workspaces and even their computer
"There’s a variety of things professional organizers
do," said Bassett. "It ranges from residential work to
home offices to huge commercial businesses — and from paper
management to organizing their computer files."
At SOS, the group explored low cost solutions to equipment, storage
and records retention problems by establishing priorities, then forming
a plan to create a rotation that maintains order as new records enter
and expired records are removed, according to Rick Katon, Administrative
Bassett added that people often feel stressed and overwhelmed when
disorganization surrounds them.
"Paper is a huge contributor to clutter," she says. "I
think that’s probably why I became a professional organizer — I
can relate to that feeling in my own home."
The services of a professional organizer often can help people function
better, whether in their home or their business surroundings.
"They feel more control over their lives and this can help
to reduce their stress," she adds.
Often, when people first hear of a professional organizer, they
think of someone coming in to put everything away.
"It’s not really like that," Bassett explains. "It’s
to help people function better — the ‘organization’ may
even be somewhat messy, depending on that person’s own style.
"It’s not real dictatorial — we help them decide
what method works best for them."
Bassett said that during "GO" month, professional organizers
try to benefit the community by donating their time to a charitable
organization, while raising awareness of their own skills.
"I thought of SOS because I spent several years volunteering
for the organization," she said. "I really wanted to help
SOS human resources associate Michael Waite said, "Sara offered
several suggestions on how to organize and maintain a filing system
with three color-coded sections. The task of filing the rest of my
papers is much easier, thanks to Sara. She also offered to follow-up
on my progress at a later date."
Bassett said the project went well, creating more space for SOS
by consolidating items and clearing some floor space.
"I think it will help them to function and work a lot better,
find things more easily and retrieve them when they are needed," she
said. "And it was great working with them; they have wonderful
staff people over there."
Bassett said that the labeled system the group of professional organizers
developed for the SOS office should be a workable solution.
"A lot of times, just setting up a system will help people
be able to follow through with it," she said. "They’re
not going back for maintenance all the time.
Marcos Anders, Director of Human Resources for SOS, said he was
impressed by the time and effort involved in the project, and agreed
that it would be easy to maintain.
"I was especially pleased with their approach," he said. "First,
they made a conscious effort to understand the diverse needs we had
and second, they got a feel for the personal work style that people
"Rather than imposing a ‘perfect’ organizing system
from the outside they helped create systems that were logical but
easy to maintain."
Jacque Dusseau, SOS Volunteer Resources Coordinator, said, "These
projects will have a lasting impact on the services we provide to
homeless consumers. We are truly grateful for the professional skill
and expertise in helping our agency to run more efficiently."
More information about professional organizers in the Southeastern
Michigan Chapter can be found at www.napomichigan.com. To learn how
SOS Community Services supports those in need in Washtenaw County,
go to www.soscs.org.