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Nov. 2, 2012

Need help downsizing?

Shapray and Kape co-own Next Step Seniors.

Marry the organizational skills of an experienced teacher with those of a social worker specializing in geriatrics and the baby of this union is a brilliant business. This is how Nicole Shapray and Stacey Kape describe the melding of their talents when discussing their new business venture, Next Step Seniors Organizing Services.

Both Shapray and Kape have been involved in the Jewish community. With their children now attending school full time, they were ready for the next step in their careers, and have come up with an idea that not only makes use of their talents but also fills an important need for many seniors.

The business partners love what they do, and view their business as a mitzvah because it helps families get through tough transitions.

“We want to work with seniors in the community and use our professional skills to be productive, efficient and contribute to families and the community,” said Kape. Having identified a lack of services for organizing and relocating seniors in Vancouver, they created a business that would also fit in with their sense of values. The concept behind Next Step is to work with families to ensure that everyone in the family is comfortable with the living arrangements of the senior members. “We are often called by the 55-year-olds for the 80-year-olds,” explained Shapray.

Shapray and Kape noted how stressful it can be for children when their parents are reluctant to make the necessary changes in order to keep themselves safe in their homes. Considering that many families are also spread across the world, it is additionally difficult for children to give the support their parents may need. Compounding the challenges of downsizing may be family dynamics that are better removed from the equation and left to a neutral third party to sort out. Enter Shapray and Kape.

Families’ needs are different in every case, which is why Next Step offers a range of services to achieve their goals. Some seniors wish to stay in their homes but they need to de-clutter or make alterations to their homes to make things safer. Shapray and Kape have contacts with occupational therapists who can assess their clients’ needs, as well as handymen, who can make the recommendations a reality.

In some cases, especially when one of the partners has passed away, the remaining spouse needs help organizing their files and surroundings. Because of the division of labor in any relationship, many day-to-day tasks are left up in the air when one member of the partnership is gone. As a team, Kape and Shapray work to create a system to make sure things run smoothly.

For those needing to downsize and move into accommodations with greater accessibility or care, the two work to make those transitions easier and sort out the many details. “We facilitate everything from A to Z,” stressed Kape.

Estate services are one of the other major ways Next Step helps families. Downsizing and dealing with an estate both require sensitivity. “We are ‘family people’ and we really understand the value of things to people,” said Shapray. “We do what we do with compassion and care for where things came from and where they go.”

The pair has discovered many different places in the Lower Mainland that accept various items that may need to be repurposed when dealing with a home full of possessions. Shapray was adamant that one of her priorities is to be environmentally friendly. She said, “We do things in a green way and, of course, financially responsible way, too. We consign, donate and auction things before we consider the landfill.”

Both Kape and Shapray are members of Professional Organizers in Canada. Organizing is a passion for them. They are also happy to get their hands dirty, or at least the gloves that they wear when prepping a move.

“We enjoy working together and it makes us more than twice as fast,” said Shapray.

“We want to continue to be involved moms and community volunteers but we know we can also help seniors and other people’s families,” said Kape.

Next Step recently had a boost from two women involved the Jewish community as well as the estate services business: Judy Weinstein and Rosalind Karby. The women just retired from their business, Heirlooms: Home Closure Management Inc.

“They approached us and were so excited and wonderful. They shared some of their expertise and experience,” said Shapray.

For more information, visit

Michelle Dodek is a local freelance writer and mother.