This Entrepreneur Helps You Stay Organized

By Jane Whitttington on March 1st, 2017 / Comments

A common New Year’s resolution (second only to that perpetual desire to lose weight) is the hope, “This year, I’m going to get organized.” By this time of the year, that resolution has likely been postponed, forgotten or just given up for its difficulty. That’s where Susie Marsh, owner and operator of SOS, Susie’s Organization Solutions, comes in. She helps perpetual procrastinators, overwhelmed organizers, and even pathological hoarders bring order to their homes and their lives.

A long-time social worker, Marsh brings those same qualities important to those in the helping professions–empathy, compassion, understanding and patience–to her role as a professional organizer.

Marsh says, “I started my business about ten years ago after leaving my job as a social worker. My mental health background is perfect for my work with SOS. The first thing I did was go through training with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization in St. Louis and received certification.”

She continues, “There are so many issues leading people to seek the services of a professional organizer. Individuals with physical or mental disabilities, those who suffer from depression and anxiety, older adults who are transitioning and downsizing, and people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) all have trouble with problem of disorganization. Also, we are becoming more aware of hoarders. Since 2013, hoarding has been included in the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).”

Hoarding Disorder is defined in the DSM5 as “a psychiatric condition that produces symptoms such as the compulsive urge to acquire unusually large amounts of possessions and an inability to voluntarily get rid of those possessions, even when they have no practical usefulness or monetary value.”

Marsh explains, “Hoarding Disorder is usually precipitated by some trauma and/or loss. People who exhibit this disorder often have a low level of insight into their problem and are unable to see or understand the extent of their problem. “

Marsh estimates that about 30 percent of her clients have some form of hoarding disorder. About 60 percent are people who are struggling with simple disorganization and about ten percent are people who have a specific task in mind—cleaning out a closet or reorganizing a room in their home.

Marsh says, “For people with hoarding disorder, it’s not a simple, short process. I have to work with them over a long period of time and will usually make referrals for them to get into some kind of counseling. A mass cleanout just doesn’t work. The issues underlying the disorder have to be addressed.”

Marsh works with a Hoarding Task Force, a joint operation with the code compliance office of Grand Rapids, adult protective services, the Grand Rapids Police Department, Public Health, the Fair Housing Center, and other individuals and organizations throughout the city.  Marsh says that the estimate is that three to five percent of the population suffers from hoarding disorder, but she feels this estimate is low. Obviously, the issue becomes a problem not just for the individual but also for the community. The Hoarding Task Force is an effort to mitigate that problem.

Marsh has appeared twice on the popular Season 7 of “Hoarders: Family Secrets” on A & E network.

SOS also frequently works with senior citizens who are down-sizing and moving into either a smaller home or a senior facility. She can also help these individuals with making their current home safer and more senior-friendly.

Of course, the majority of her clients are simply people who are busy with their families, jobs, activities and lack the time and energy to reorganize their spaces. For such projects, Marsh meets with the client for an initial assessment, comes up with an action plan, and works with them over time to address the problem.

In addition, Marsh is a frequent speaker at events such as the upcoming meeting of the Caregiver Resource Network or the Grand Valley State University conference on the Art of Aging.

For more information on Susie’s Organization Solutions, visit the website at www.susiesorganizationsolutions.com. 

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.