Image“What’s it like to live downstairs from a hoarder? Lalie and her children suffer the effects of mold, mice and flea infestations because their upstairs neighbor and landlord, Denise, has secretly acquired one of the show’s most massive hoards to date.” – TLC’s website 4/23/13

When the e-mail came in asking if I was interested in volunteering as part of a team from the National Association of Professional Organizers’ (NAPO) Chicago Chapter on a television shoot for TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, I was conflicted.  On the one hand, the other shoot I participated in for A&E’s “Hoarders” was an incredible learning experience.  This time, however, it was January and we would probably be sorting and assisting outside.  I also knew more about hoarded environments and the unique challenges they create.  Realistically, I knew the experience could push me to the limit physically, mentally, and emotionally but I felt up to the challenge.  The desire to help and raise awareness about people who hoard won out and I agreed to join the team.

Unfortunately, the day of the shoot was one of those days that hovers around 0 degrees.  Fortunately, I am a pro at being prepared and had covered all the bases.  (Ask me about it sometime.  That’s an entire other post!)

We were told the inside of the home was so entirely contaminated that we would not be going inside.  Our team of NAPO-Chicago Professional Organizers waited outside and prepared the environment for sorting and discarding.  Keeping busy helped us stay warm – like skiing!

The word came down that our assistance outside would not continue as planned.  Would we be willing to don HazMat suits and help clear the contaminated materials instead?  At that point, we knew innocent children were living in the building.  How could we walk away?

We stayed.  Our team was provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and we went in.  It will be difficult to watch the episode, “Leading a Double Life” (airing Wednesday, April 24th)  because there were areas where we were not allowed to go.  And background information we did not have.  But we are professionals.  And we did it for the kids living in that building.  And for Denise, who was accepting our help.  And we would do it again.

How far would you go?

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