People familiar with television shows like A&E’s “Hoarders” have seen professional organizers: People who earn a living helping people to get organized and stay that way.
But most of the professionals don’t deal exclusively with extreme cases like those on TV, but average citizens who simply need help. And on Wednesday, 750-850 of them are expected to attend the National Association of Professional Organizers’ annual conference and organizing exposition at the Hilton Baltimore. Organizers will have a chance to network, learn how to improve in their trade, and how to create an organizing business.
There will be seminars on helping organizers deal with a client who suffers from pathological hoarding, how to establish a client base and how to give clients proper counseling on staying organized.
Registration for the conference, which runs through Saturday, is still available, and costs between $199 and $860, depending on how many days someone wants to attend and whether he or she is a member of NAPO or another approved organization.
Nettie Owens, 32, is the owner of Havre De Grace-based Sappari Solutions, and will be attending the conference. Owens is one of NAPO’s golden circle members, meaning she has been a professional organizer and NAPO member for at least five years.
“When someone calls us, generally speaking they have reached their limit on what they can handle on their own,” Owens said.
Sappari Solutions, which was featured on an episode of TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” doesn’t just provide manpower to help clean up, but counseling on how to remain organized.
“There is a large portion of just talking,” Owens said. “A lot of people have said, ‘Is this therapy?’ and I am very clear it isn’t, but it can be therapeutic.”
An initial consultation with Sappari costs $150 and includes a two-hour on-site consultation, where Owens and her team examine the space they will be working in and set goals for the job.
Sappari then does the first two hours of organizing for free, and charges $60 an hour after that.
Sappari, like many organizers, uses the Institute for Challenging Disorganization’s 1-to-5 clutter hoarding scale to rate a client’s level of disorganization.
A person who needs only a small amount of basic help is a “1,” while a “5” is someone with a psychological disorder so severe that the amount of clutter poses a serious health and safety risks.
“For the most part the people that we work with are 3 and below,” Owens said. “We would need to call in outside services if they hit 4 and 5. We’d need a therapist and we’d need possibly disaster recovery to handle infestations and structural issues.”
Sappari also offers classes at Harford Community College such as right-sizing your home, letting go of clutter and time management for moms that teach people the skills to stay organized.