Dixie Allen on A&E: January 21, 9pm

Dixie Allen on HOARDERS

I was part of the production team on an A&E Hoarders episode in October on Long Island. I have signed a non-disclosure document and can tell you only that this Hoarder, Delores, was elderly and lived alone. The network found me from searching my National Association of Professional Organizers website, looking for members in the New York region. Upon receiving their call and invitation to participate, I changed my scheduled and hopped on the ferry out of New London, CT on 3 days notice. The shoot lasted three days and was very intense. This was the ultimate challenge for an organizer. It was an awesome experience and I helped change a life!

Delores’s life centered on tag sales – the interchange with people, the bargaining, the search and discovery that goes along with it. She thought she could fix “stuff” – and it got away from her. Her home had been condemned by the village authorities because the stuff was spilling out into the street and her garden was strewn with it – including a kitchen sink. Her children became alarmed when she gave up her bed and slept on the sofa. The Hoarders has a website where people who hoard can apply to be on the show. I assume this is how they found Delores. There were 30 people involved to help Delores: 8-10 in production team including cameras, sound, PA’s directors, etc., 3 1-800-GOT-JUNK trucks with a crew of 3 each, a stager to decide what to keep to “re-set” the home, an organizer working with truck crews. We were not the cast and were not Mic-ed. The cast included the hoarder, her family members, a psychologist, the village inspector, a professional coach to help her make her changes and an antique dealer. All attention was given gently to the Hoarder – Eventually her resistance gave way to accepting the help. She was able to “let go” of this accumulation by being assured that one truck would be for donations. We all worked 2 days to clear 3 rooms. The afternoon of the 2nd day, a cleaning crew arrived with brooms and face masks! That evening the 3 rooms were painted white – and the morning of the 3rd day, the stager and I added the drapes, new throw pillows, throw carpets to the saved household items. Pictures were hung – And still there was more stuff to get out. The finished rooms were eclectic, warm and well – themed. Delores had slept in a hotel that evening, close to her family. The “reveal” was about 1:00 – we were all filled with anticipation that she would accept the changes. Cameras were rolling as she stepped into her house and she “loved it” – word came out to us on the street and there were Hi- Fives all ’round. The next moments were filled with lovely surprises. Delores’s grand children arrived and could sit with her on the sofa – games were brought out to play on the floor – the inspector arrived and told her that she would have “more time” – Pizza was delivered – the house had become a home. Soon, it was time for us to go.

I stayed on Long Island that night to “decompress” and realized I had been part of something very special – we helped a family and saved a home. I glow with the memories of the experience. Now I hear that, after editing, this episode will air on A&E January 21st at 9:00 – it should be a good one!!