Just the idea of sorting through a lifetime of personal effects to downsize for a move can be overwhelming, but Niagara-on-the-Lake woman Laurie Gunton says she wants to help ease that stress for local seniors.
She said she began Smooth Move for Seniors in 2011 to combine her innate compassion and empathy with a desire to give back in a meaningful way. Especially for the aging population.
“I want to reinforce that there is a need to assist seniors these days. They feel overwhelmed at even thinking about moving, sorting or decluttering.”
“It’s my job to ease the transition by calmly working with them and figuring it all out together,” she said.
She’s no stranger to devoting her time to helping others, she said; volunteering has always been “in her blood.”
She has been volunteering for more than 40 years and was just inducted into the NOTL Rotary Club last year and joined the Shaw Guild in January.
And while her business provides a unique, one-on-one service for her clients, she also reaps the benefits of working so closely with them. She said she has always enjoyed connecting with seniors and listening to their stories.
“They've got just so many interesting stories. It's been amazing listening to stories alone,” she said. Listening is something she said has always come easy for her.
“I have always been great with elderly parents, grandparents, great aunts, neighbours that are elderly. I just latched on to them and felt a lot of empathy because they're why we're here today.”
She combined her motivation to help with resourcefulness and organizational skills to create the “very personalized” moving service.
She doesn’t offer a one-size fits all model, Gunton said each client wants something different. And she’s not afraid to go above and beyond.
Often, she will move clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s. In such cases she’ll take the extra steps to make the move as seamless as she can.
“I’ll take pictures of their rooms so I try and match it as best I can when we move so they feel comfortable and familiar as possible,” she said.
But she doesn’t just help a person relocate, she will also spend time with her clients meticulously going through each room to help them decide what is important and what can go.
After determining which items the client wants to get rid of, she will consult an appraiser to try to sell anything of value.
“I'll find out with them what is there and what people are interested in buying. And if the items are sellable, then we start figuring out pricing,” she said.
Next, she’ll personally take donations to the client’s preferred organizations, or local charities if they have no preference.
Disposal comes last, she said.
And service doesn’t always end on moving day. Gunton said she’ll keep in contact with clients once they’re all settled into their new place. Some clients have turned into friends over the years, she adds.
Information on services offered can be found at SmoothMoveforSeniors.com.