Mar 13 2009

April Conference on Hoarding

Hoardhouse has been invited to participate in a forum on compulsive hoarding that will take place at 10 a.m. on April 21st at Hartley House, which is a settlement house in Hell’s Kitchen. It will be an excellent way to present our multimedia project to an audience comprised mostly of social workers who seek to learn more about the topic.

Patricia Petersen, a passionate social worker at Hartley House, is organizing the conference. At yesterday’s planning session for the forum, she summarized the gist of dealing with hoarder clients, “You don’t just go in and grab someone’s stuff and tell them to throw it away!”

Participants plan the April 21st hoarder conference at Hartley House.

Participants plan the April 21st conference at Hartley House.

Then, Bob Kalin (a community organizer at Housing Conservation Coordinators) talked about an elderly Polish woman who had stowed away $25,000 worth of crumpled $20 bills. That was just one of several hundred hoarding cases he has dealt with over the past 20 years. Next, Don Tagatac (whose Trauma Scene Cleaning Management Inc. has worked with several dozen hoarders) mentioned how his business seeks to protect support agencies against exposing their social workers to bedbugs and other hoarder scene problems. The conference’s panel discussion should be a great opportunity to share our final product with professionals who can make practical use of our material.

There are 10 days left until the project is complete, and our full package goes live. It will be interesting to see how enthusiastically the body of work is received by all types of stakeholders. We have tried throughout to cover the issues at hand in a balanced way. In covering four broad groups (hoarders, psychologists, clean-up specialists, and support professionals), we have sought to give each a sufficient platform to voice perspectives and concerns.

That being said, we would like our viewers to continue to give candid feedback about our work – in terms of both the form and the content. We are striving to create an easily navigable site with information organized efficiently. And we are still earnestly working to avoid any semblance of voyeurism.

Also at the meeting yesterday, Susan Siroto (program director at Search and Care, on the Upper East Side) talked about avoiding an Oprah-type spectacle. While the eminent talk show host’s unique brand of edutainment has noble aims, we certainly hope to be more informative and thorough in our reporting. Stay tuned!