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Couple found house of love in SandtownMabel...


Couple found house of love in Sandtown

Mabel Zelle never imagined that cleaning up a trash-filled alley would lead her to her future husband.

Though not searching for love, she and Bob Wesley bonded through their volunteer work at the Sandtown Habitat for Humanity project.

"We first met at the Cathedral [Church of the Incarnation]," says Ms. Zelle. But "It wasn't until we got to Sandtown that we got to really know each other. . . .

"Bob invited me to work with the church's volunteers, and we connected through [our] work on a house that the cathedral was sponsoring."

The couple began volunteering at Sandtown in spring 1992. Since then, they have worked on at least a dozen houses, according to Mr. Wesley. They recently helped complete another house in the 1500 block of Stricker St., which was presented to its new owner July 21.

Although the couple lives in Baltimore's Oakenshaw neighborhood, Sandtown has been their "home" every Saturday since their wedding last October.

"They exemplify the kind of character and commitment that make Sandtown Habitat successful," says Mark Gornik, president of Sandtown Habitat for Humanity.

Ms. Zelle, a 47-year-old research assistant at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, did not know much about construction work at first, so she helped clean and paint until she learned to build walls. Mr. Wesley, a retired management consultant currently working as a real estate

agent for O'Conor Piper & Flynn, prefers to frame and finish homes.

But, he says, "What I get the most pleasure out of is watching the house getting dedicated and families getting a home we built up on the inside."

Her house is in order, her hair cut short with not a strand out of place, her vacation gear arrayed neatly for packing on the bed, which is made snug enough to suit the Naval Academy. Everything about Ann S. Weinfeld breathes control.

She can show you how to do this, in her way or yours, whatever works. Control, order, organization -- for a fee she can help bring these into your life. She calls the service Simple Organizing Solutions, as in S.O.S., as in "Mayday, Mayday, I am drowning in my own stuff."

Ms. Weinfeld, who lives in Homeland, brings to the task a master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland plus considerable sympathy for those struggling with mountains work or household-related files, bills, fliers, reports.

very much for functional people who just want to function a little better," says Ms. Weinfeld, a 49-year-old mother of two sons.

Her service, available for $50 an hour, is not therapy. But Ms. Weinfeld says her professional background -- she is also a licensed clinical social worker -- gives her insight into ways people make their own lives more difficult. She also recognizes that for different personality types there are different ways of organizing.

In some cases, weeding out clutter is a matter of figuring out what's important to you. In others, it's a matter of developing systems you can use to store things where you can easily find them. Sometimes people need help managing not just their papers but also their time.

As a general statement, she says, folks tend to have too much to do and too much new information being thrown at them.

"It almost seems like everyone has attention deficit disorder," says Ms. Weinfeld. "You can't possibly absorb everything that is coming at you."

Arthur Hirsch

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