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November 2016

From the President

And just like that the holiday season is upon us. I am looking forward to hanging out and socializing with you at our holiday party on December 5.

At last month’s chapter meeting, Lisa Engstrom, NAPO-NY’s director of membership, shared our high-level findings from our recent membership survey. Thank you to the over 50% of members who responded. If you missed the meeting, check out the summary in the chapter meeting minutes.

As the board takes a deeper look into the results, we look forward to sharing our next steps and upcoming initiatives.

Collette Shine, NAPO-NY President

From the Board

The Nominating Committee has officially launched the process of recruiting candidates for the 2016-17 Board of Directors of NAPO-NY. Although the new board will not take office until May 15 of next year, we are getting started early because we’re anticipating more openings than usual.

If you are already a chapter volunteer, you know what a growth experience it is and how rewarding it is to volunteer. Being on the board is a great way to develop your leadership skills and to build life-long relationships with your colleagues.

If you would like to know more about what it means to be on the board and what the responsibilities of each position are, please reach out to a member of the Nominating Committee: Sharon Lowenheim (Chair), Audrey Lavine, Sandra Schustack or Collette Shine. Please note that Provisional Members cannot serve on the board, but if you plan to move from Provisional to Professional Member by next May, then don’t hesitate to have a conversation with us if you are interested.

Meetings and Events

December Chapter Meeting: Holiday Party
Monday, December 5, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
McGee's Pub, 240 West 55th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue

The holiday party will serve as our December chapter meeting. Join us for food, merriment, and fun!

Book Club Meeting: “Junk”
Sunday, January 22, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Cafe, 33 East 17th Street, north side of Union Square

This quarter, the NAPO-NY Book Club will be reading “Junk: Digging Through America’s Love Affair with Stuff” by Alison Stewart. Read the book, then join us for a fun informal discussion! For more information please contact Mary Reed.

First Step Organizing Workshop
Thursday, February 16, 1:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Coalition for the Homeless, 129 Fulton Street, near Nassau Street

The First Step Job Training Program is a program offered by the Coalition for the Homeless that prepares women to enter the workforce and earn a living wage. NAPO-NY presents organizing workshops 6 times a year as part of the program. If you would like to present at the workshop, you must first observe a workshop. If you are interested in volunteering or observing, please contact Dorothy McNeill.

November Meeting Recap: Organizing From a Clinical Perspective
The member spotlight this month was on Mary Reed. Mary has a full-time job as a technical designer and considers her organizing business to be her side gig. She works with residential clients in the evenings and on weekends.

This month’s program was presented by Rachel Sager. Rachel is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in addition to being a professional organizer and she shared her tips for working with clients who have mental disorders. The full meeting minutes can be found in the Document Library, accessed from the Members Only menu on the NAPO-NY website. (You must be logged in for Members Only access.)

October First Step Sorting Event Recap
On October 21, NAPO-NY volunteers helped sort over 20 boxes of donations for the First Step Clothing Boutique and prepared the boutique for First Step’s fall/winter classes.

Thanks to the following members for volunteering:

  • Lisa Engstrom
  • Dee Rosenthal
  • Hildy Mesnick
  • Whitney Dosick
  • Wendy Bergman
  • Sarah Weingarten

Special thanks to Michael Ferrante and Box Butler for their incredibly generous donation of boxes and storage space to help free up space in the boutique and safely store off-season clothing.

If you are interested in volunteering to help sort donations in the future, please contact Lisa Engstrom.

Welcome New Members

Tori Cohen
Laurie Keefer

Member Media Mentions

Lidia Doura, Angela Kantarellis, Sharon Lowenheim, Stephanie Shalofsky, Amanda Wiss and Lisa Zaslow were featured in “Moving to New York? These 23 Professional Organizers Can Help You Declutter” on the ExtraSpace Storage blog.

Linda Birkinbine was featured in “Ready, Set, Entertain: Plan Ahead to Pull Off Gatherings Large or Small” in The Buffalo News.

Corporate Associate Member Box Butler was featured in “NYGC Partners with Box Butler to Help Store Your Clubs” on the New York Golf Center blog.

Leslie Josel was featured in “Turning a Year of Devastating News into a Life-Changing Business” on

Corporate Associate Member Junkluggers was featured in a tweet from Bethenny Frankel on

Sharon Lowenheim was featured in “How Downsizing Can Actually Make You Happier” on the ClassPass blog.

Lisa Zaslow’s “Ask the Organizer” column is in the November issue of Real Simple.

Volunteer Opportunities

The spotlight this month is on the Programming Committee, which reports to the Director of Professional Development. The Programming Committee brainstorms topics and speakers for upcoming chapter meetings. A lead team member is assigned to each meeting. There is one position available on this dynamic team.

This is a great position for someone who enjoys working with a team and loves seeing through a project from start to finish.

Other open positions:

  • Media Liaison
  • Press Release Distributor
  • Golden Circle Liaison
  • Professional Development Seminar team member
  • Webinar Planner
  • AV Tech Assistant

To learn more about any of these positions, please contact NAPO-NY’s Volunteer Coordinator, Sharon Lowenheim.

Book Club Review: “White Walls: A Memoir about Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess in Between”

On October 20, the NAPO-NY book club gathered to discuss Judy Batalion’s “White Walls.” The book is a memoir detailing the author’s ongoing struggle with her mother and her mother’s hoarding disorder. It touches on her childhood surrounded by her mother’s and grandmother’s clutter, her sparsely-decorated first apartment, and how her fears of clutter and mental illness resurface when she becomes pregnant.

Members’ reactions to the book were mixed – some agreed the book had a humorous tone (the author has a background as a stand-up comic), while others didn’t find Batalion very funny. Some readers also found the book very self-indulgent, commenting that first-time parents always seem to feel like they’re the first person in the world to have a baby, and that it seemed like the author would have benefited from more therapy before trying to write such a personal book. One reader, who enjoyed the book very much, found it relatable because her mother also had a hoarding disorder. However, all members agreed that the book helped them to understand the way that trauma and mental illness can shape hoarding disorder, and one member commented that she liked and appreciated the book more after discussing it together with the book club.

A key theme of the book is how the hoarding disorders of the author’s mother and grandmother were shaped by their traumatic, war-torn pasts. None of the members present at the book club meeting work with clients that have hoarding issues. Some questioned why trauma results in this type of disorder for some people and not others. For example, the reader whose mother has a hoarding disorder was triggered by her traumatic childhood, but her mother’s sister was not.

Overall, the book adds a colorful personal narrative to the current cultural landscape of books and TV shows about hoarding disorders. If you’re interested in gaining a unique perspective on the influence hoarding disorders can have on the loved ones of those affected, this might be a great read for you. 

The NAPO-NY Book Club meets four times per year to discuss organizing-related books. Next quarter we’ll be reading “Junk: Digging Through America’s Love Affair with Stuff” by Alison Stewart. Meeting will be held on January 22, 2017 at the Barnes & Noble Cafe. Contact Mary Reed if you have any questions regarding the book club, or suggestions for future books!