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Group helps seniors clear out clutter

5:46 PM, Feb 2, 2010   |    comments
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"I called it the junk room," the elderly resident of the Sunset Towers retirement home in LoDo said.

On Friday, though, Love got some help. Members of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) came to the retirement community to help elderly residents clean out their clutter.

Eleven professional organizers worked with three elderly residents at Sunset Towers. All of the items in Love's closet were lined up in a hallway as she watched, nervously.

"I was a little nervous about you coming," she said to lead project organizer Brenda Peterson. "I thought 'Oh no! I am going to have to get rid of a bunch of stuff.'"

Peterson says that reaction is common among a lot of people, especially in the elderly community.

"It does take some sensitivity and some understanding and training to learn how to battle the struggles people have to get rid of things," Peterson said.

The local chapter of NAPO donates a free day of organizing services once a year, as part of what it calls Go Month ("Go" standing for "get organized"), which is always in January. The free services aren't always limited to retirement homes. In the past, the organization has also helped nonprofit groups organize their offices.

Love always wanted to clear out her storage closet, but she could never make the first step to get started.

"I would never, ever be able to do this by myself," she said.

She and Peterson spent hours going through boxes of porcelain dolls, clothes, dozens of bed sheets and other items. They made individual decisions on what to keep, what to throw away and what to give away to charity.

"I'm liking what we're doing," Love said to Peterson while sitting in her wheelchair in the hallway.

In just a few hours, Love finally got what she'd been dreaming about for years: a cleaned-out closet.

"I've been waiting 15 years for this day," she said with a smile. "I can get my crafts, make quilts again and make doll clothes."

The Sunset Towers effort was also the result of a partnership between NAPO and Volunteers of America.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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