Spring Into Organization

Local businesses make it easier to lose the clutter and find peace of mind.

By Kate Rader

Cleaning and organizing your home in the spring is an old tradition, stemming from a time when homes were heated by fires, and doors were kept shut tight to keep out the winter cold. Spending long days indoors meant an accumulation of soot, dust, and…piles of stuff. While we’re no longer putting out the fire and throwing open the shutters after a long winter, there are still many benefits to airing out your home and getting rid of the clutter. 

While it can seem like a chore, there are health benefits to getting your home organized—for both mind and body. And, there are many locally-owned businesses ready to help you get things in order and clean out your space. In short: you don’t have to tackle the task alone.


Whether you’re cleaning out an estate, revamping your organizational system, or just trying to declutter, IAP and Clutterbug Certified Organizers Paula Montgomery and Leann Tomlin know just how much anxiety clutter can cause. Paula started Hagerstown-based A–Z Organizing after discovering how much she enjoyed the process of organization. Her daughter Leann joined her shortly afterward, and now they work together to help others to create calm out of chaos.

“Clutter can cause anxiety,” the mother-daughter team says. With it, there’s “more to clean, more to dust. Your home can feel more comfortable and peaceful without all the stuff. When it’s gone, so is that anxiety.”

Many of their clients feel overwhelmed or embarrassed, they say. “It’s hard to
see past the piles of stuff. We stress confidentiality and no judgment. When you come in with a fresh outlook to give suggestions, you can almost visibly see people’s relief.” 

The duo has recently added Paula’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Alyssa, as a helper and assistant, making A–Z a three-generation company. Paula says they’ve enjoyed turning their passion into a profession. “I’ve moved a lot in my adult life, and have found so much joy in unpacking, organizing, and fixing things up. When I helped a friend set
up her AirBNB, I realized this is something I would love to do.”

Bathroom Cabinet Organizing
Choosing clear containers make it easy to find what’s been put away.


A–Z offers an initial phone conversation to better understand the challenges the homeowner is facing. “When you’re dealing with your own stuff you put a lot of sentimental value on it. An outside person can help make it easier to let go.” 

“We ask a lot of questions. Like, do they have a space in their house that IS working? Why? Have they tried to get organized on their own? What did and didn’t work?” Leann applies the Clutterbug approach (made popular by HGTV) to help customers learn about what kind of “Bug” they are — in other words, what their personal organizational style is. 

Some people like to have their things hidden out of sight, and some like to have them shown, so Leann and Paula believe it’s important to know what goals their clients have. They say that people often call when they’re overwhelmed with the amount of stuff they have and don’t know where to start, have trouble getting the kids ready for school, or are on a deadline because things feel out of order, are downsizing and need to purge, or even when couples are trying to marry their styles together.


“My husband likes micro categories and for things to be hidden. I need macro categories and to see them,” Leann says. “A great way to start is to go room to room and categorize items as you pick them up. What will you keep, what’s trash, what do you need to look at later, what goes in a different place, and what can you let go of?”

They both believe that it’s important to be able to access things in the order of how they’re used, as in a kitchen. “Everyone needs a command center—somewhere to drop paperwork, keys, important things. A central area where a family can drop their things neatly.”

Having organizational systems that work for you can take the guessing out of where to put items and make your home easier to maintain. A–Z offers different packages and price points to suit a customer’s budget and aesthetic. “We’re all individuals, so we organize to fit your lifestyle. Everyone has a different space. Nothing’s impossible.”

Brookes House Group Photo
Donating your gently used items instead of throwing them away is not only environmentally friendly, it can help organizations fund their mission- like Brooke’s House, which helps women attain a life of sobriety.



Since organizing undoubtedly requires decluttering, what the heck should you do with all that stuff? Kevin and Angie Sherman and their son Kevin Jr. started Dümpster LLC six years ago to address the need for compact residential dumpsters. 

Angie says they’ve become popular because they’re so convenient. “We offer five sizes of dumpsters to choose from—all of which fit right in tight spaces like the homeowner’s driveway.” The dumpsters are perfect for removing trash and debris for smaller projects like a bathroom renovation or cleaning out an attic or basement, to larger clean-outs like estates. 

The seven-day rental includes free drop off and pick up within a 30-minute radius, and landfill fees, even for larger metal items like lawnmowers. Dumpsters even have doors that open in the back to make loading heavier items like couches easy. 

If you have items that are still usable, consider donating instead of ditching. Brooke’s House Thrift Store is one of

the worthwhile nonprofits that take donations of gently used goods to sell and support their mission. Started by Kevin Simmers, in honor of his daughter Brooke, Brooke’s House is a “Financial and social enterprise for women who are in early recovery,” says delivery and donation pickup manager Ashley Robison, who herself completed the program more than a year ago. 

The nonprofit’s thrift store and coffee shop are an important part of the recovery process, Ashley says. “It’s a way for the girls to find their sense of self-worth and change the face of what people think of addicts. It helps them find a sense of purpose and that they can give back.”

Donors can drop gently used items

at the back of the store, located at 1001 Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown’s South End Shopping Center. If people have larger or heavier donations and are unable to deliver them to the store, people can call the store to schedule a free pickup.

Items they love to get include bedroom furniture, couches, clothes in season, lamps, small appliances, and home decor. They can’t take anything with rips, stains, or damage, desks or exercise equipment, mattresses, or used linens. 

More than 75% of the staff at the store are graduates of the program. “I hope people can see that we’re local and how the girls benefit directly. They’re leaving Brooke’s House and giving back. Learning how to work again, right here in Hagerstown. It’s touching their lives.”

My Green Dumpster Truck
Dümpster LLC provides driveway-sized dumpsters for any project- from small renovations to large cleanouts.


Decluttering Tips From A-Z

Leann Tomlin and Paula Montgomery from A-Z Organizing Solutions share their tips for decluttering at home.

Turn your hangers backward in the closet. After a year, if you have clothing on a hanger that hasn’t been turned around, get rid of it. 


Put the things you use the most at eye level. Don’t take up valuable real estate in the pantry with things you rarely use.


Put things you only use at the holidays back in that weird cabinet that’s hard to get to. You know you have one.

Just get started:

Go room by room with a trash bag or a box for donations. If you see items you can throw away, or donate, bag them right then and there.

Small steps:

Set a timer for 15 minutes and pick one area to declutter or organize. You’ll be surprised at what you can get in a short amount of time.

Bite by bite:

To avoid getting overwhelmed, don’t look at the house as a whole. Instead, tackle a drawer or a cabinet at a time. Leann says they can help steer people to prioritize what’s bothering them the most. “Often once you get started and see the progress you’ll be motivated to do more,” she says.



A–Z Organizing

A-Z Organizing Solutions

(240) 343-0423

Dümpster LLC


(240) 447-6974

Brooke’s House


(240) 452-8172



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