2019 marks a very special anniversary for one of our team members, Michelle Eastman. Michelle has the honor of being our first employee hired and has been with us for ten years now! Changing Spaces SRS Owner Jeannine Bryant sat down with Michelle to ask her to reflect back on the last decade with Changing Spaces SRS.
J: As you reflect back on your ten years at Changing Spaces SRS, what stands out most to you?
M: The relationships I’ve built with my co-workers, our clients and our estate sale shoppers. The kind of work that we do is so personal that a kind of bond forms very quickly with our clients. I love the fact that I can see a client I worked with two years ago and feel like I could still come right up to them and give them a hug and feel bonded to them.
I also feel so blessed to have a team of people that I work with who have become a 2nd family to me. I have been through 3 total joint replacements in the last 10 years, and my co-workers have been with me and supported me through it all. When we do hard work and tackle big jobs, we help each other out and get the work done, no matter what. We are truly a team. This really became apparent in 2018 when we lost two of our staff members to cancer, and the rest of us had to help one another through that loss. It bonded us even closer together.
J: What have you learned from your time at Changing Spaces SRS?
M: That this process of downsizing, moving, and clearing out a house is something that we will all go through someday, and when my time comes to make a transition, I hope that I will get a crew like Changing Spaces SRS to help me.
J: What is most rewarding about this kind of work?
M: I’m a people person, and I’ve always loved older people. I think back on the way I have been able to walk into a situation and help our clients through a time when they are nervous and scared. I remember a client we worked with recently, how she was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof when we walked in the door for the first time Monday morning. And I took her hand and said “I am your daughter for this week, and we will take care of everything and get you through this.” And she took a huge breath and was able to just relax. To be able to say those things, and to mean them, and know that you are making a huge difference in this person’s life – I couldn’t imagine a better job than that.
J: How have you seen the company change and grow over the years?
M: In the beginning [of my time at Changing Spaces SRS] my husband used to say “why don’t you go and get a real job?” But I knew that something would happen with this company, and it has been such a pleasure to watch it grow. I know it’s your dream, Jeannine, but it’s been my dream too!
J: What are some things you have learned from working with our clients and their families over the years?
M: I’ve learned how to pack a box! How to move a house, and get it done right, how to take care of a client beginning to end, and even after that. I know how to pack a $30 piece of art as well as a $500 piece of art and a $3500 piece of art. Because we pack them all the same. It all matters.
But my job is not just packing and moving, it’s helping families. I’ve pulled pants up, changed dirty sheets, taken care of dogs, had clients cry on my shoulder and even cried with my clients. These transitions are hard, and no one wants to grow old and make a big change, but together we can make the process easier, and even have some fun doing it.
J: Anything else you’d like to add?
M: One of our mottos at Changing Spaces SRS is “Don’t panic on a Monday” and I think that is such great advice. When we walk into a client’s home, or an estate sale house for the first time on a Monday morning it is so easy to get overwhelmed and think ‘how are we going to get all of this done?’ but little by little, we make progress and before we know it, by Tuesday afternoon we’ve got a good handle on things and it always works out. I’ve always tried to use that motto in my every day life, as well. “Don’t panic on a Monday” is really about taking a stressful or overwhelming situation and working through it, bit by bit. We always get through it.