Virginia Maslin is a self-proclaimed packrat, and although she is not proud of it, she knows that admitting it is step one to recovery.

"A lot of clutterers are like alcoholics," Maslin said. "They don't want people to know about it. I'm ashamed of it, but I'm out of the closet. I know I need help."

In an attempt to rid herself of her problem and to finally get rid of some of her junk, Maslin started up a Clutterers Anonymous group based in her hometown of Stone Harbor.

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Clutterers Anonymous, or CLA, is a national twelve-step program modeled after Alcoholic Anonymous, but created for clutterers not drinkers.

"To be a clutterer means that you have things around that you know you should get rid of, but you just don't do it," Maslin said.

CLA has group meetings set up in places all over the world, using CLA-approved literature that matches the AA program as a guide.

"We follow the format of Alcoholics Anonymous expect where they said 'Your power is over alcohol,' we say, 'your power is over clutter,'" she said. Also as in AA meetings, CLA meetings are confidential and attendees typically will share their problems with the group and support each other on the road to recovery.

"It's a self-help group," Maslin said.

Changing the format of its monthly meeting for May, the Stone Harbor CLA group welcomed guest presenter, Vali G. Heist, a certified professional organizer and the author of "Organize This!, Practical Tips, Green Ideas and Ruminations about your CRAP, (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure.)" This was the first time the group had a guest speaker.

Heist shared some organization tips and stories about her experience working one-on-one with countless clients to overcome their issue and clear out their "CRAP."

Maslin said she's hoping Heist inspired and motivated some the local clutterers, herself included, to get rid of their clutter once and for all.

North Cape May resident Abigail Miller, a clutterer who attends the CLA monthly meetings in Stone Harbor, said Heist's presentation resonated with a lot of people.

"Everyone was quite pleased, and a lot of people purchased her books on CRAP," Miller said. "She shared tips we all know deep down, but we have to hear it reiterated. Like if you buy something and bring something in, take something out."

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If you go

What: Clutterers Anonymous self-help group

When: Meeting are held first Thursday of each month at 1 p.m., the next being Thursday, June 9.

Where: The Stone Harbor Women's Civic Club at 96th Street and the Beach.

Cost: Free

All clutterers welcome. For information, call Virgina Maslin at 609-368-2692.

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