The phone rings at 8 a.m. Sally McCabe has been hard at work since 6:30. Demand for her services has been growing by leaps and bounds and she recently moved her office out of her home in Roland Park to spacious new digs in the historic Clipper Mill area. She has 3 full-time employees and several dependable people that she keeps on-call for larger jobs. Today she will be moving a large rocking horse purchased by one of her repeat customers – a grandmother – to the home of her grandchildren. It’s a surprise. She is also arranging cable and phone services for a young executive relocating to Baltimore; meeting with a company to discuss their reorganization and move to larger offices; and taking a set of china to her favorite consignment shop for a couple that is downsizing. And this is just her morning!
In the afternoon she will return to a client’s house, where for three weeks she has been helping her sift through 400 boxes of papers in preparation for a move to a smaller home. She has already helped this client decide what furniture will fit in the new apartment and what needs to go.
After Sally graduated from Hollins University, she attended the Program in American Material Culture, at Winterthur. Here students explore the social, political, intellectual, and cultural history of the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries. This rich background enhances Sally’s understanding of architecture, craftsmanship, horticulture, interior design, and set design. As she says, she knows enough about furniture to know when something is an antique or a reproduction, and when she needs to call in an expert to examine it further.
Sally was a commercial real estate agent/broker for many years. During that time she learned how to work with different personalities, and developed a deep sensitivity to her clients’ needs. After her second child was born, she decided to take a break from her career, which was no longer fulfilling her desire to really make a difference for people. Then she was asked by an out-of-town friend to help with a relative who lived in Baltimore. The woman in question could no longer care for herself and was eventually moved to an assisted living facility and the family was overwhelmed by the condition of the home she left behind. That is where Sally came in. She cleared out the debris of several years, arranged for repairs to be done on the house, and prepared the property for market. Her friend was so impressed with the result, and the burden that was relieved from the family that she told Sally, “There MUST be a market for this.”
And there was. Sally has been in business for over 12 years, and has helped hundreds of people reorganize, downsize, and move. When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Sally replies, “It’s when I leave a client’s house and they say ‘Wow, we got a lot done today!’ I think it’s the social worker in me that wants to make a difference in people’s lives. I love solving problems, and taking the burden off of people who don’t have enough time in their day already.”
The phone rings. It is her partner, Linda Gaines. Linda is currently helping a family of four organize their new basement playroom. The 4-year-old twins have outgrown the family room, and the mom wants to take back that space. Linda is in the process of sorting; boxing up baby toys to take to a consignment shop, bagging those that can’t be salvaged. She wants to confer with Sally on the best place to take the toddler clothes. Because when the mom saw what a great job Linda was doing on the playroom, she asked her to help with the girls’ bedroom closet as well, which was stuffed to capacity with clothes, books, MORE toys, and preschool art projects.
“When people tell me that they are embarrassed to have their friends or family see how disorganized they’ve become, or the amount of stuff they have acquired I tell them that this is all just evidence of how they have enjoyed their lives and the things that go along with that. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Let’s just get you organized so that you can keep on living.”