A couple of months ago I coordinated a pretty big volunteer community event for Veteran David Kist and his new family in Paramus. Here is the back story. Long story short, we had over 30 people come together including 6 other professional organizers beside myself, and we decluttered and organized the first floor and basement of Veteran David’s house. People and organizations were extremely giving. One of the areas we did not have time to organize was the family’s garage and one of our donation gifts was a Monkey Bars Storage unit for garage organization.

Jean Marie presents the five basic steps to space organization

Well, I couldn’t just let that donation not be taken advantage of. Since David and his partner Lisa couldn’t physically ready this space themselves I decided to ask for help again but with a different twist. This time we included girl and boy scouts and paired them with professional organizers (PO’s) from the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) from our Northern New Jersey Chapter.

After a brief presentation of the five basic skills to any organizing endeavor, we paired each scout with a PO, transforming both the garage and attic simultaneously while teaching them organizing life skills. Many of the items in the garage needed to go up to the attic.

Before and then Ready for our garage donation

JM and Mike Gorman of Junkluggers

For example, a lot of Veteran David’s military items and memorabilia needed to be relocated to not only the attic but other parts of the house too. It made perfect sense to do both spaces together and we had another donation – a junk truck from Junkluggers. I can’t turn down an offer from a junk removal company either! We had the woman and man power, a vehicle to take away all the non-keepers and a goal to help this family learn “what they own and where it lives” in their newly decluttered spaces.

Beside 8 PO’s and 9 scouts on this phase 2 project, we also had several adult volunteers creating over 20 plus volunteers to help our Veteran family decide between keep or toss. In less than four hours this teamwork yielded a broom swept garage and an attic all with clear categories of keep areas such as: sports, lawn and garden, holiday decor, memorabilia, off-season clothing, house decor etc.

Group photo on the front lawn. Veteran David kneeling in the front row on the left. We’re done!

Here is a video, describing the transformation by Veteran David Kist himself…

Photo of JM & canine Patrick

A reporter asked me what these events meant to me and I said, “This experience of giving back to someone who dedicated his life for our country, never asking for anything in return, has been beyond humbling. It has made me realize that no matter who we are or what we do, we can all help our veterans. The look on David’s face as he watched the fabric of his community stitch together his home was priceless.”

At the very end of our time together, Veteran David’s (formerly his service dog) canine “Patrick” backed into my lap showing his gratitude…

This whole amazing projects(s) began when my colleague Linda Blick, MSW of Tails of Hope Foundation asked me if I could lend a little organizational help…