One of the Professional Organizers was asked to do an episode on Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC and asked if I would be one of the crew! I jumped at the chance even though it fell on the day of the NFL playoffs. Anyone that knows me, knows how I love my football.
To give one day of your life to be able to change another person’s world is pretty darn huge in my book.
The game plan was that myself, along with four other organizers, would be working in a heated tent to sort the items that were brought out of the home. They would be categorized and labeled. When the home was cleared out and cleaned, the lead organizer would incorporate them back in the home.
The night before, I packed up my bag. I had plenty of sharpies, postit notes, and hand sanitizer. I even bought hand warmers for everyone. I also layed out multiple layers of clothes. Hey, it was supposed to be 10 degrees and windy!
I arrived the next morning. I was excited to see what the day would bring. The production staff made it clear that it was all about the client and taking care of her. The “crew” was made up of a clean out company, the organizers, friends of the client, and the staff of the show. No staging, no scripting- 100% real!
We filmed the beginning and then went to the organizers tent to wait till they brought out the stuff. The clean out crew went to work. They opened windows and began to bag and toss out debris. The client has previously put together a keep/toss list. There was also a therapist onsite. She stayed very close to the client.
So as we were huddled around a heater, the production assistant came in the tent. She told us that they needed more man power and would we be willing to suit up(hazmat suit and mask) and work in the home. We all were silent for a moment. Before I knew it, I was putting on a hazmat suit and a face mask. I also had to wear a pair of haz mat boots. They were yellow and size large(my feet are size 6.5). At first it was a little hard to walk.
Yes, I looked like a walking oopa loompa, space alien, or michilan man! It was not a pretty site. The client kept calling me the “munchkin” because I am a shorty.
So I made my way upstairs. I was in the home about 10 seconds and I nearly face-planted into a pile of debris. I was thankful that one of the clean up crew grabbed me. I went in a corner and started to work. Most of the items were soiled and ruined. There was very little that was able to be kept. I did find an antique set of trains.
When they say it takes a village, they mean it. Everyone was suited up and tackling the home. When you finished one area, you moved to another. Even the therapist was bagging items. The two camera guys were walking around filming the whole time.
It was a little challenging at times. You are walking on layers of stuff and have to balance yourself. I had a hard time breathing out of my nose in the mask and therefore my goggles kept fogging up.
All and all it was a wonderful day. The client was treated with the upmost kindness and respect. Everyone was there to help her make a positive change in her life and have a new beginning of sorts.
Kudos to you TLC! Your doing a great job! I was proud to be apart of it for one day!