Monday, July 05, 2010

Dirty Deeds Done with Heart


I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. For those of us in the States celebrating Independence Day, we know from the time we were school children to be grateful to our Founding Fathers and all those who fought to create a place where we're free to pursue our dreams. Of course, we're a work in progress and like every human endeavor, we make mistakes and sometimes head down the wrong path. But overall, I do believe that we will eventually get to where we need to be. Even if the route is circuitous and mysterious.

I wanted to share a little story of my friend and colleague Janet LaBerge. Janet is the owner of a cleanout company called Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap).  Janet and her "crew", which often includes her two adopted teenaged sons Brock and Yeltsin, go into basements, attics and storage bins to help people clean out their homes, readying them for sale or other passages in life.

(photo by Jean Donohue)

Janet's particular specialty is cleanouts for senior citizens, although she certainly works for anyone who needs her help - I've used her and referred her to friends.  As any of us with aging parents and grandparents knows, moves later in life involves a lot of downsizing and getting rid of a lifetime's accumulated belongings. And while it's often "just stuff", each piece is imbued with memories. Janet's background in social work (20 years) has provided her with a basis for understanding this process of letting go and moving on. She understands that in many cases, it's part of a long term grieving process and respect for how these items are disbursed can be a helpful part of the process.  Nearly every item that Janet is asked to remove is recycled in some way and very little actually goes straight into a landfill.  For people who have to give up some treasured possessions, knowing that they are going to "good homes" can make all the difference because they know they are making a difference in someone else's life.

Janet's mantra, the core of her business philosophy, is that of "paying it forward". Doing for others so that they will be inspired to do for others. There are certainly a lot of people in her line of work who happily sell the items they are paid to cart away and there is nothing wrong with that. However, that's simply not what Janet LaBerge is all about.  She even made these black wrist bands printed with WWDDD (What Would Dirty Deeds Do?) and Pay It Forward as reminders which she passes out wherever she goes.  In addition to donations and recycling, Janet also passes along items to those in her extremely wide circle of aquaintance. Mostly, it's furnishings and dishes and the like. The only rule is that it goes to a good home, is not to be re-sold, and that the recipient also try to pay it forward in some way.   I noticed on her Facebook page this week that someone posted the following:

Hi Janet, I wanted to tell you that you came to mind yesterday. I decided to take the day off and spent maybe $30 on popsicles and throughout the day delivered them to any of my friends that were working outdoors. I thought about "you need to pay it forward" The smiles on the faces were freaking priceless, have a great day.

 A couple of months ago, Janet posted to her Facebook page the image below of this wicker set that needed a good new home. I just happened to have a totally empty deck in need of a patio set. I'd had a vintage wrought iron table and chairs, but it had rusted beyond my ability (& interest) to resuscitate. Janet had taken it off my hands a couple of years ago - no doubt passing it along to a worthy new owner.

By 6:00 on the same day, I was the proud new owner of this pretty wicker set which fit perfectly on my deck, expanding my living space to create a nice new outdoor room!

Just in time for the holiday, I recovered all the cushions with a Waverly outdoor fabric that is water and mildew resistant.  I hope the previous owner would be happy to see that this set has been put to good use as it's gotten me out doors (something I avoid a little too much) and brought friends to my door for cocktails out on the deck. Fun!

And now, it's my turn to pay it forward. I often pass along things to members of my Freecycle group, and so I will spend some time today pulling together some interesting items and passing them along to new homes.

Janet was just inducted (or I should say "coronated") as the new president of the board of director's of the South Shore Women's Business Network (SSWBN).  At the dinner event last week, Janet put together quite an entrance and gave quite a speech. While it's a bit of a time commitment, I encourage you to watch this truly unique, funny and poignant speech about working with others, professional and personal relationships, and yes, paying it forward.

Thanks to Susan from Between Naps on the Porch for hosting another fabulous Metamorphosis Monday!

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Olive Cooper said...

Linda I am truly in spired by this post. Thanks.

diana said...

I also found this to be very inspiring... on a few different levels. A gentle reminder to most of us to edit edit edit... so that we can send on these precious treasures that we have to others.

Stephanie Lee said...

Thank you for visiting AND commenting on our little blog! It is really an honor, and I was shocked to see YOU commenting on my little pile of junk!

This women is truly the definition of what a woman should be. I only hope that I can contribute to the world in such a way that Janet has.

yvonne@designvignettes said...

This post makes me wish I lived on the South shore -- what an inspiring message from a true leader!

PS Love your porch set makeover : )

sanctuaryhome said...

I know when we were moving my Grandmother to assisted living, we could have used someone like Janet. What a great endeavor!

LindsB said...

What a great story that is! I love the new look you gave your set, what a perfect back patio you have now!

Sharlotte said...

I'm with everyone else...this was truly inspirational! I think this is a wonderful service. Thanks for sharing!

Atticmag said...

What a wonderful story. And your fabric makeover on the wicker set is beautiful. Love your pattern and color choice. Can't believe it's the same set.
Jane T.

Christi @ A Southern Life said...

What a fun and inspirational post! Your wicker set is great and your friend is phenomenal!

Christi @ A Southern Life

One Shabby Old House said...

What a wonderful business owner. It is always nice to read stories like these. I know that you are certainly enjoying your new wicker set. I love what you did with the covers. Very nice.

Claire Watkins, ASID allied said...

The first 'sofa' my parents bought together was a wicker one at a neighbor's garage sale. They still have it (though now it's on a porch), but it's painted brown like yours and looks perfect! Don't tell them, but I do like your choice of fabric better! Looks like a wonderfully welcoming spot!

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