Happy 25th Anniversary, Professional Organizers in Canada!
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Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) was founded in 1999, the same year I completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® qualifying program and became intrigued by the relationship between an individual’s organizing and time management style and their personality type.
I joined POC shortly after establishing my business in the summer of 2002, on the advice of Margaret Miller, who was President at that time and one of the association’s founders. Since then, I’ve watched the organization go through many changes.
When I joined, there were fewer than 100 members across Canada.
A few months later, Margaret asked me to step in as Director of Membership. This mainly involved preparing membership kits and sending them out to new members, but as the organization grew, so did my workload, to the point where I actually had to recruit a volunteer to look after the membership kits while I attended to other Board responsibilities.
By the time I stepped down from the National Board in October of 2005, there were over 500 members, representing all 10 provinces.
One of POC’s major initiatives at the time was National Organizing Week (NOWeek), held the first week of May until 2021. The main purpose of the event was to raise the profile of the association and the organizing profession by volunteering organizing services to other non-profit organizations.
In 2003, I volunteered alone to organize a file storage room for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton Burlington, which was a huge project that brought me back to their location several times before it was finished. POC provided a press release template, so I customized it and sent it to my local media outlets. I didn’t hear back from anyone, so I was amazed when a reporter from the local TV station showed up to interview me for the news!
In later years, I had the opportunity to work with other local organizers at Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.
NOWeek has since been replaced by World Organizing Day on May 20th.
Website Redevelopment Committee
The most exciting project I participated in as a POC member was the redevelopment of the website (perhaps that should have been a clue as to my future direction). With the growth of the organization, we needed a more user-friendly navigation system and a membership database that tied directly into the registration process. It’s challenging to work with a volunteer committee strictly by email, but thanks to a few core members, we were finally able to go live after more than a year of planning and working with a developer. That was in 2006, long before the current website was launched.
When I joined, I was part of the Toronto Chapter. I’m actually not sure if there were any other chapters yet. Later I was part of the Southwestern Ontario Chapter and then the Halton-Peel Chapter, which was actually close enough for me to attend regularly.
There is nothing like being in a roomful of people who share your passion, but one of my favourite meetings was a mini organizing expo, where we had reps from a number of local businesses, including a shredding company and Mabel’s Labels, who were still fairly new at the time.
I’ve since had the honour of speaking at many chapter meetings, including the three mentioned above, North-GTA, Cyber, and the Niagara Networking Group.
Of course, the Annual Conference was always a highlight! Being with like-minded people is amazing enough, but combine that with education, food and fun, and you can’t go wrong.
I had the pleasure of attending as a member every year from 2002 to 2006, and was there when they gave out the first Silver Leaf pins to professional organizers who were in business for at least five years and members in good standing with POC for at least two years.
I returned as a speaker in 2010, 2011, and 2015, when I hosted the first in-person meet-up of the Blogging Organizers group. I’ve heard that there have been similar gatherings at other conferences, but this is the only one I’ve attended myself.
POC is currently planning for their first in-person conference since before COVID, and I’m sure it will be amazing.
A year or so after I joined POC, fellow Board member Hellen Buttigieg asked if I would be willing to look after her electronic newsletter, as this was something I did for my own business that she wasn’t interested in learning to do herself. That made me realize that I got more pleasure from working on my computer than from hands-on organizing, and I began to evolve from a professional organizer to a virtual assistant. I left POC in 2008 after deciding to stop organizing professionally.
I’d like to mention that not only did Hellen have a key role in changing my business, but she’s still my client over 20 years later! I also met Julie Stobbe of Mind over Clutter and Mind over Clutter Courses, another long-time client, through my involvement with POC.
I made some wonderful contacts as a POC member, and it was because of them that I created Your Organizing Business. Many have since retired or moved on to other ventures, but through this blog and the Blogging Organizers Facebook group, I’ve been able to maintain strong ties with many while growing my network to include organizers from the US and overseas.
Although I didn’t stay in the field, Professional Organizers in Canada was instrumental to getting my business established. I am truly thankful for the professional development and leadership experience and even more thankful for the opportunities to form and grow lasting relationships.
Happy Anniversary, POC!