Years of treasures, stuff and junk – who ya’ gonna call?

How did I manage to collect so many things? Who hasn’t asked themselves this question.

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

How did I manage to collect so many things? Who hasn’t asked themselves this question.

When my grandfather passed away, my father and aunt tackled the decades of stuff my grandparents had collected. I can remember my father saying, “I’m never going to put you boys through this.” Well, the other day my mom called and said, “Steven, I want you and Carol to think about what of ours you want after we’re gone.”

OK, it’s not the sunniest thought, but it’s reality, and reality is starting to hit millions of Baby Boomers hard.

Some of us quietly ask ourselves this question while gazing in shock over belongings gathered over the years. The question might come to mind on cold wet days when we arrive home wishing we could park the car in the garage only to be reminded of what lurks behind the garage door.

Or, when stacks of paper are spilling out of cabinets onto surrounding surfaces and it triggers the question, “Where did this all come from?” We know where, but convince ourselves it’s no big deal. We believe we can manage around the treasures, stuff and junk we’ve collected, and we move on to the next activity in our busy lives. Jump ahead to the time when you need to move … and that’s when reality hits.

As we Baby Boomers continue to boom, we realize our homes are more like bombs packed tightly and ready to explode. It’s time to call in the bomb squad … or in this case the stuff squad.

To understand how to better deal with all we’ve collected, I spoke with Cheryl Kakalia (pronounced ka-ka-lee-ah), a certified senior move manager and member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. She owns Turning Point Moves ( and provides downsizing, relocation and estate services.

Cheryl points out that one of the biggest stresses for older adults and their adult children is coping with unneeded belongings.

“It doesn’t matter if a client is staying in their current home or planning to move, they just have too much stuff,” she said. “(We) specialize in helping those who don’t have the time or the ability to wade through the mass of belongings. I help them sort their things into categories of treasures, stuff and junk. We determine which treasures they want to keep, distribute to family, or sell.

“Stuff is anything they no longer use and it’s given away or sold in garage sales, and the junk goes to the dump,” she added. “We also arrange and coordinate other services with companies that specialize in estate sales, hauling, cleaning, etc.”

According to Cheryl, while it’s difficult to go through decades of things and determine what stays and goes, it’s even more miserable to actually do something with all of it. But as the saying goes “misery loves company” and, well, Turning Point Moves, and companies like it, are there to reduce your misery by reducing how much you own.

Besides moving to a smaller home, other reasons downsizing your belongings is a good idea are to reduce hazards.

As a realtor, I’ve been in many homes. I’ve seen some of the worst and some of the best. But a common theme amongst most of them is clutter.

But it’s good to know that there are services provided by caring professionals to help you manage your treasures and move through the next turning point in your life.

Steve Foreaker is a real estate associate broker and loan officer. You can reach him at or

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