5 Tips to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

Do you have a clutter problem in your home? A cluttered home can strip your time, energy and resources. If your countertops are covered in “organized” piles, you have trouble shutting your overstuffed drawers or you have to create a pathway through your basement, you may have a clutter problem.
Not only is clutter an unattractive décor element, it is also a safety hazard (e.g. trips, falls, fire) and encourages insects and rodents to make themselves at home. If you find yourself hanging onto items you might need one day or simply have not de-cluttered your home in a long time, check out the these tips to keep your home clutter-free.             
1. Purge regularly and ruthlesslyAt least twice a year, go through all storage spaces in your home with a critical eye, including closets, cabinets, drawers, shelves, attic, garage and basements and put everything you haven’t used for more than a year in a pile. Face it—if you’ve never worn the black skirt you bought five years ago, you are not going to wear it now. Toss it in the not-needed pile. The same goes for all unread books, old electronics, broken toys, etc.
Transfer items you want to keep, but do not use often, like seasonal décor and clothing, into eco-friendly storage bins made of cloth, cardboard or bamboo.
2. Reuse and recycleBefore tossing out your entire not-needed pile, take a minute to find out whether any items can be repurposed. For example, your old t-shirts can be converted into a stylish grocery bag or a cozy rug with a little time and effort. Or those tiny Mason jars could be turned into cute tea-light holders. Be sure that you follow through with any projects, so that these items don’t end up in your next not-needed pile.
As you come across items that cannot be reused or donated, move them to the trash pile. Remember, many items cannot be put into the regular trash, but need to be recycled or taken to a special facility, like batteries, small electronics, paint and cleaning chemicals.
3. Sell or donateAny items in your not-needed pile that are in good condition should be sold or donated. Is your pile taller than your refrigerator? Consider holding a yard sale or calling Purple Heart to pick up the pile.  
4. Make it a lifestyle choiceKeeping your house free of clutter is easy if you make it a daily habit. A once-a-year cleaning spree will not keep your house clutter free for an entire year. Maintaining a clutter-free house is a continuous process that takes time, effort and commitment. Add these steps to your daily habits:

Sort the mail as soon as you bring it in, and put all flyers, envelopes and promotional catalogs that you don’t need directly into the recycle bin. Cut down on all paper bills and bank statements. You are not only saving trees by saying no to paper, but also reducing the amount of paper that crosses your threshold.

While shopping for your monthly groceries, choose items that are locally made and have the least packaging. This cuts down on plastic waste and bypasses the energy and resources utilized for shipping and transporting items.

Enlist your family’s help. Ask your children to follow the “one-in, one-out rule” with toys. For every new toy that they buy, they have to donate one to Goodwill.

Set aside 10 minutes every day to go through the most trouble-prone areas in your home and make it clutter-free.
5. Plan, plan, planProper planning is the key to organized, clutter-free living. Think twice before buying anything new – do you really need it? How often are you going to use it? Where are you going to store it? Will you be able to care for it and maintain it? These are but a few questions you should ask yourself before making any new purchases or ahem, adding clutter to your house.
Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he's not out shredding waves he writes about homes for househunter.co. 

GHHI Baltimore Launches First Book Program

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Baltimore recently launched a partnership with First Book to help improve academic outcomes for families receiving GHHI home interventions. A safe and healthy home is essential for children to succeed in school, and with the addition of a home library, a child’s educational outcomes can increase exponentially.
First Book is an international nonprofit that provides access to new books and educational resources for children from low-income families. Through the First Book Marketplace, schools and community programs working with kids in need can get books and educational resources for up to 90 percent off retail prices, thanks to partnerships with more than 90 leading publishers and manufacturers. First Book believes that reading is critical to a child’s success in life and school, but a child without books to read will not have the opportunity to become a skilled reader. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 120 million books to children in need.
In the nation’s lowest income neighborhoods, there is statistically one book for every 300 children. In middle-income neighborhoods, it becomes 13 books per child.[i] First Book and GHHI Baltimore are working together to close this gap.
How the Program Works
Last fall, GHHI Baltimore began its first delivery schedule of books from First Book. We purchased 1,860 books for children between the ages of 1 and 14 years old, selecting nine books for each age group. The books are gender neutral and range in topic from health education to classics, like the The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We also supply parents and caregivers with information on reading literacy to guide them in their efforts to help children develop strong reading skills. We asked all of our current home intervention clients with children if they would be interested in participating in the program and so far, we have only received positive responses.
As the Family Advocacy Services Manager for GHHI Baltimore, I lead this program and see that we are already making a difference in many families’ lives. I especially love dropping off the books to the clients when children are home. It is so rewarding to see the children automatically pick up one of the books and start reading.
To date, we have delivered more than 300 books to low-income families in Baltimore City. Our goal is to reach an average of three families per week, reaching more than 75 families in the next six months! We are constantly evaluating the program’s progress and hope to extend the program to other GHHI locations across the country.
Measuring Progress After Three and Six Months
Before delivering the books, the parent or caregiver fills out a survey outlining their child’s current interest in the following areas: reading at home, how many books their child currently has in the home, how often the parent reads with their child, the parent’s opinions on how important reading is to their child’s education and the child’s current level of reading in school. We plan to follow up with the parents and caregivers at three month and six months with the same survey. Changes in the interest levels of reading for both the child and the parent and whether there have been grade-level reading improvements at school are all signs of success.
Through this partnership, GHHI and First Book are turning the page on a story of unhealthy homes and academic struggles to one of healthy homes and successful futures for Baltimore-area school children.
If you are a school or program serving children in need and would like to sign up with First Book, click here. 
[i] Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006

Celebrating a Mississippi Legacy: Dr. Aaron Shirley

The calendar year of 2014 has two remarkable bookends. In January the nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the set of initiatives announced in President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 State of the Union address, which he said were designed to, “not only relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” In late November of this year, the country lost one of its most dedicated and visionary leaders in that ongoing war, Dr. Aaron Shirley, who died of natural causes at the age of 81.
Dr. Shirley is probably most well known for being the first African American medical resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) in 1965. But without Dr. Shirley’s active participation in the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR), in 1970 the state of Mississippi would not have accepted the initial grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) that funded Jackson’s first comprehensive community health center. The development of that center, created in direct defiance of Mississippi’s governor and state medical society, paved the way for Dr. Shirley and his contemporaries to lead many other healthcare innovations throughout the decades to come. As stated by author John Dittmer, “Men of great personal courage, they embraced the opportunity to be both professional health care givers and civil rights agitators.”
Poverty is often characterized as an invisible and marginalized problem, but throughout the course of his life Dr. Shirley pushed issues grounded in health disparity into the forefront of the medical community. He was an advocate for health equity, a service provider in some of the state’s poorest areas, and he also pioneered programs and built facilities that improved health outcomes for countless numbers of low-income African American patients. His commitment to improving the healthcare system resulted in three innovative solutions that became national models.
Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (JHCHC): In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Shirley worked with Dr. James Anderson and other MCHR doctors in homes and churches to serve black patients who were not permitted access to hospitals. Through their work with the MCHR, Shirley and Anderson earned a grant from the OEO to found the JHCHC in 1970. By 1979 the center was considered to be a national model for community health centers because of its integration of a wide array of health and wellness services, including mental health care, housing for seniors, youth counseling programs and a comprehensive health clinic. This facility is now the largest provider of primary health care services to uninsured and underserved residents in central Mississippi.
Jackson Medical Mall: In the early 1990s Dr. Shirley lived in a neighborhood of Jackson with dwindling economic opportunities and a shopping mall that was rapidly becoming vacant. In 1993, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, and he used his financial award to develop his vision for turning the mall into, as he described, a “state-of-the-art ambulatory health care facility providing quality healthcare for the urban poor.” In partnership with Jackson State University, Tougaloo College and UMC, the mall first opened in 1995, and the 900,000 square foot facility continues to be a dynamic mixed use facility providing quality medical treatment and health and wellness education. The project was one of the first successful adaptive reuse initiatives for underused shopping malls, and continues to be an international model for such projects. Dr. Shirley served as chair of the board of directors for the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation for the remainder of his life. The Foundation’s net income grew from almost $745,000 in 1996 to more than $8 million in 2002, and the facility continues to be fully leased.
HealthConnect: In 2010, Dr. Shirley created HealthConnect, a program designed to engage community health workers in home-based health education and counseling in order to improve health outcomes and efficiency for healthcare systems by reducing rates at which rural community residents rely on emergency room visits for primary care. The program expanded to include “health house” facilities in Humphreys, Leflore and Yazoo counties; these are neighborhood based community health facilities that enable management of chronic health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. According to local reporter Jerry Mitchell, “A test of the program worked with more than 1,000 patients and helped reduce hospital readmissions at Central Mississippi Medical Center from 26 percent in 2010 to less than 10 so far in [2014].”
Many organizations that participate in the GHHI Jackson Learning Network were shaped or influenced by Dr. Aaron Shirley and the generations of leaders he trained. As 2014 comes to a close, these organizations wish to recognize Dr. Shirley’s leadership and contributions to healthcare and civil rights advocacy work in the state of Mississippi. Without his vision and tireless efforts, our work would not be possible.
Dittmer, John. The Good Doctors: The Medical Committee for Human Rights and the Struggle for Social Justice in Health Care. (2009) Bloomsbury Press, New York.
Gates, Jimmie E. “Medical pioneer Dr. Aaron Shirley has died.” (November 27, 2014)
Hansen, Suzy. “What Can Mississippi Learn From Iran?” (July 27, 2012)
Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. 
Matthews, Dylan. “Everything you need to know about the war on poverty.” (January 8, 2014)
Mitchell, Jerry. “Mississippi will sorely miss Aaron Shirley.”

Support GHHI on #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday is our favorite time of year at GHHI. It’s a time when we intentionally pause to consider our individual and our collective blessings. It’s a time when we recognize how important it is to look into our own hearts and give—be it in the form of volunteer time or donations—to the many among us who are in need.  
We hope that you will support GHHI on Giving Tuesday (December 2) by making a donation in support of our mission to help break the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy families. Please help us spread the word about our cause through social media or by using the websites below for your holiday shopping.
Thank you, in advance, for your support!
Donate to GHHIDonations directly support our work to create green, healthy and safe homes for our community’s most vulnerable families. You can even tell us exactly how you want your donation used: to help with physical home repairs that remediate lead paint and asthma triggers; to help relocate families from unhealthy housing; to provide in-home family advocacy and healthy homes education, etc.  All donations are tax deductible.
Note: The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (CECLP) is the legal entity for the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). Began as a program of CECLP in 2008, GHHI became the legal "DBA" of CECLP in 2014. As such, all donations to GHHI are processed through by our legal entity, CECLP.
Spread the WordAs recently witnessed with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, talking about an organization on social media and encouraging others to donate can be just as beneficial to a nonprofit. Tell your followers why you support GHHI and include a link to our donations page.
Or have even more fun with it! Share an #UNselfie with your social media networks. An UNselfie is a photo of yourself that includes a caption or a sign in the photo explaining why you support GHHI. When posting your photo, include the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday, and if posting to Twitter, tag @HealthyHousing.
Shop to GiveThe easiest way to support GHHI year-round is to use the following websites when shopping online—they will donate a portion of your purchase directly to GHHI!        
Amazon Smile is a simple and automatic way to support your GHHI. Amazon Smile’s website is identical to Amazon.com, but adds a donation of .5% of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. To sign up for an account, visit the home page and follow the instructions. Existing Amazon accounts can be used to sign into Amazon Smile. You will then be prompted to choose your charity—search and select Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, (GHHI’s legal entity; see note above). Be sure to visit Amazon Smile going forward to ensure that your Amazon purchase qualifies for the donation!
Goodshop is an online shopping mall with more than 5,000 stores that donates a percent of your purchase to GHHI. Retailers include Macy’s, Target, Expedia and Kohl’s. You’ll also receive exclusive discounts, so you can save money and give back at the same time. To register, click “sign up” on the upper right hand corner of the home page. You will be prompted to search for your charity. Search and select the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. To begin shopping and earning donations for GHHI, simple visit Goodshop and click on a store of interest.
iGive includes access to more than 1,500 online stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Staples and Toys R Us with exclusive coupons. Each store will donate a portion of your purchase to GHHI. To register, fill out the form on the home page. When prompted to “choose a cause” select “search by name” and enter select Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. iGive utilizes an online widget to inform stores of your participation to ensure a portion of your purchase will be donated to GHHI. You will be prompted to download the iGive widget. Follow the instructions on the page. 

CHAP Updates Historic Preservation Guidelines to Address Lead-Based Paint Hazards

The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) has revised its Preservation Guidelines to allow for more effective treatment options for owners in remediating lead-based paint hazards and to improve lead safe work practices in historic properties during renovations or lead remediation.
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative has advocated for several years for CHAP to revise its Historic Preservation Guidelines to permit greater flexibility in the replacement of historic components that contain lead-based paint. These components include leaded windows, doors and trim, which can pose a hazard to children and other occupants who reside in historic properties. Unsafe work practices that disturb painted surfaces may also generate lead debris and lead dust that can cause lead poisoning through their inhalation or ingestion.
GHHI applauds CHAP and its staff, Commissioners and Committees for holding public hearings and for reviewing written recommendations from GHHI and others on how to modernize the CHAP Guidelines to permit owners to more permanently remediate lead hazards while maintaining the historic integrity of their properties. With these revisions, CHAP becomes a national leader in the reform movement and will be looked upon by other jurisdictions as they revise their policies and procedures to better address lead-based paint hazards in historic properties.
View the new CHAP Guidelines.
If you are interested in strategies on how you can reform historic preservation policies related to lead-based paint hazards or how to approach the local historic preservation office or State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in your area, contact GHHI and read GHHI’s written public comments to CHAP.



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