By Andrea Brown, Herald Writer
Katie Munoz is like a wedding planner for relocating seniors.
She coordinates the move and helps them declutter, organize and pack.
Her business, Moving Forward, also does the unpacking. “We put everything away. We make the beds, hang the towels,” she said.
Seniors often need an extra hand with planning a major move. It’s hard to cram a lifetime of belongings and memories into a smaller place.
“The family is already taxed,” Munoz said. “There are all the things of where do we start, what do we do?”
That’s where she comes in.
She and her staff deal with the details. They will measure the new floor plan, ship heirlooms, arrange liquidation of unwanted items, cull financial papers and tend to the dog on moving day.
The heavy lifting is left to movers.
Munoz, 59, started Moving Forward in 2004. It was her way of moving forward as well.
“I was in the software industry as a program manager. I got a call from my parents in Virginia that my father’s illness had become terminal,” she said.
The next day at work, she planned to ask for a week off.
Instead, she got laid off that day.
Turns out, she said, “It was a blessing in disguise.”
“I hopped on a plane and went back to Virginia. I had two weeks with my dad before he passed. His biggest concern was what would happen to my mother after he was gone,” she said.
Munoz assured him she’d take care of everything. “I promised it in moment of passion, then it was holy moly, what was I going to do?”
She relied on her background. “I was project manager, so I was used to making schedules and making lists of potential risks and what to do if something went wrong.”
That helped, to some extent.
“My mom became quite disoriented after my father passed. It took about three months to get my mom moved and settled. My brothers helped as much as they could,” she said.
“By the time I was done, I said, ‘I wish I could have done this over. I could have done it in a third amount of time.’ ”
When she returned to Washington to look for a new job, a career counselor asked her: “What have you done that you’re proud of?”
A business was born to assist seniors and their relatives.
She now has about 10 employees covering Western Washington. Clients include retirement communities, family members, real estate agents and guardianship agencies. She arranges for movers and selling professionals, much like a wedding planner lines up the band, caterer and photographer. It is a paid service, with an hourly fee.
Speaking from experience, she said: “It is a lot tougher to do it for a family member than a client.”
Along the way, Munoz launched a second venture, From Serious to Hilarious, leading humor workshops at retirement communities. Most of these talks are free.
For more information about Moving Forward, call 425-702-8761 or go to www.movingforwardinc.com.
Katie Munoz will host a free humor session from 9 to 10:30 a.m. April 30 at Fairwinds-Brighton Court, 6520 196th St. SW, Lynnwood. The title is “Turning Doom and Gloom into Room to Bloom: Reducing Tension with Humor.” For more information, go to www.serioustohilarious.com.
Tips to avoid chaos on moving day
- Moving date: Call the moving company at least two weeks ahead of time to schedule your moving date. For moves in late spring, early summer or at the end of the month, call at least three weeks ahead.
- Last-minute items: Before you pack the kitchen (or bathroom), put aside the things you’ll need to continue living comfortably in your home, such as the coffee maker, can opener, two plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives and spoons. Leave those items to pack until the morning of the move day.
- Essentials: Before you pack anything else, create “essentials” boxes for your new home. These will be the first boxes you unpack and should include tissue, toilet paper, paper towels, a few cans of soup, hand soap, dish soap and a set of sheets and towels. Also include light bulbs, as professional movers typically remove these from lamps and leave them behind. Mark the boxes well so you can easily recognize them from any side when the movers bring them into your new home.
- Instant access: Designate a specially marked box for things that you will need access to right away, such as your cellphone charger, checkbook, prescription medicine and papers pertaining to the move itself. Take this box with you in your car.
- Liquids: Avoid spilling liquids all over your furniture by packing them (including perfumes and cleaning solutions) inside plastic tubs or inside boxes lined with plastic trash bags. Move the tubs yourself, flat on the floor of your trunk. If you are going out of state, just give those items away to friends before you move.
- Be there: Don’t plan on running errands while the movers are loading or unloading. Most moving companies require that the client be present with them while they are working.
- Unpacking: Moving companies usually load their trucks with boxes first, followed by the furniture. This means that, at the new address, the furniture is brought into the new home first. It could be mid-afternoon before you get the first boxes to start unpacking. Unpack your last-minute items first. Then put away the essentials.
- Lamps: Set up lamps with light bulbs in your new home before the sun goes down.
- Packing paper: When you are unpacking, remove and flatten every piece of packing paper before you discard it to be sure you haven’t missed a small, flat item in a box.
- Plug it in: If you have any furniture that depends on electricity (for example, a china cabinet with interior lighting), make sure you plug in the furniture before you put items into it. There’s just nothing like realizing the china cabinet you just filled is blocking the electrical outlet.