ALTON — Through Metro Area Enterprises Inc., Denise Sparks is helping hoarders create a new beginning.
Located in the Alton area, Sparks’ company first began in 1993 as Metro Area ChemDry — specializing in carpet and furniture cleaning, water damage cleanup, and trauma and crime scene cleanup.
By 2000, it had morphed into largely water, fire and mold cleanup.
“Once our economy went to pieces, we became involved mainly with foreclosure, securing boarding, debris removal cleaning, winterizing lawns and hoarder cleanups,” Sparks said.
For the last 10 years, she has begun specializing in the foreclosure and hoarding aspect of the business. She says while some businesses may be “messy,” the problem of hoarding mainly occurs in residential homes.
Many people may not know the true definition of a hoarder, she said.
“Hoarding is basically when (the owner’s acquired items) prohibit the functionality in a home to where you can’t walk into the house; you can’t use any of the rooms for their intended purpose,” she said.
A hoarder, Sparks said, can range from a level one (a minor hoarder) up to a level five, where one often cannot get into the house, pathways and rooms are blocked and animal and human waste can be found. Hoarders can come from any age group and social standing, collecting both free and purchased items at ever-increasing levels.
Many factors can trigger a hoarding situation, such as a death in the family, divorce, heredity, or dementia. Sparks said one of the most common triggers for hoarding is depression.
“Some people are also triggered if they have had a past experience with a home fire, and may have lost many items,” she said. “Now they will collect everything and everything they have and never throw anything away.”
For each job, Sparks said an initial phone consultation will gauge the seriousness of the client. Meeting the family and giving estimates are the next steps.
“It’s hard sometimes because you have to get the hoarder to comply; it can be challenging,” Sparks said. “You just need to support them in any way.”
No job is too big or too small ... anything from minor clutter to an entire home.
“It doesn’t have to be a whole house. It can be one room, two rooms, the garage, attic, or the basement,” she said. “After we have removed everything, we like to clean the rooms to make them functional the way they are intended to be, and I wouldn’t ask my (team) to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”
Metro Area Enterprises covers Madison, Macoupin, Jersey and St. Clair counties for hoarding situations.
“Please don’t be afraid to call us, whether it is a minor issue or major situation,” Sparks said. “We are here to help in any situation, and we can (walk the client through) from beginning to end. “
For more information, call (618) 781-1407 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. More information is available on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/denise-sparks/10/58/332.