By PHYL NEWBECK
Suzanne Lourie likes to help people in transition. The 57-year-old Charlotte resident has done this work in many ways, including as an attorney and social worker. These days, she does it as a professional organizer through her three-year-old business, Get it Done.
“My focus is to help people declutter and organize their homes and offices with emphasis on when people’s lives are in transition,” she said. “I enjoy being part of their team and helping them realize their goals.”
Lourie stresses that her definition of organization has nothing to do with minimalism or making a house suitable for a magazine spread.
“I want to help people find what they need and be comfortable and happy in their space,” she said. “Almost every time I work with clients, I hear ‘I’ve been looking for that!’”
Lourie started her professional career as an attorney in California but found that the pro bono work she did on behalf of asylum seekers and victims of domestic violence was more rewarding than the general practice work she was paid to do. Returning to school, she became a social worker but while caring for her mother, whose health was declining, she learned about the field of professional organizing. Moving her mother to Vermont required emptying her house and selling the contents. Lourie subsequently helped her mother-in-law and a number of friends with the same process.
“I realized I’d been doing this work in different ways for a while,” she said. “As a social worker, I’d been helping people find their goals and learn what was getting in the way of them making progress.”
It was Lourie’s husband who suggested she turn her skills into a business.
“It seemed scary to start out on my own,” she said, “but it will be three years in April and it’s been a fantastic experience.”
Looking for fellow entrepreneurs, Lourie joined the Women Business Owners Network and now serves as the Burlington co-coordinator. She is also a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. In addition to assisting with physical possessions, Lourie tries to help people get their end-of-life planning documents in order. She even travels to California a few times a year for clients in the San Francisco area.
In her spare time, Lourie teaches adult English language learners through the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and she has volunteered with Therapy Dogs of Vermont. For the last three years, she and her husband have been beekeepers and in those creatures she sees a parallel to her business.
“Bees are so efficient,” she said. “They are the ultimate organizers.”
Lourie is happy to have found a niche where she can help others.
“I find it incredibly inspiring to be part of the process where my clients find relief in reaching their goals,” she said. “I get to witness those transitions.” Lourie notes that the work can be challenging because people often don’t reach out until they are desperate.
“We feel like we should be able to do these things ourselves,” she said, “but when I come in, I’m non-judgmental and I feel like I bring humor and compassion.”
Each project is unique and Lourie believes she has learned something from each of her clients. “It’s a difficult process to bring someone into your home,” she said, “and for me it’s an incredible privilege.”