Pinky Zalkin: The Lone Arranger
Anything Arranged by Pinky
Your personal concierge and home organizer
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Pinky Zalkin of Nevada City is very good at doing things she’s never done before, but the list of things she hasn’t done in her peripatetic professional life keeps dwindling.
Last year, a tragic accident in Zalkin’s family cut off an income stream she had depended on to subsidize her considerable political activism and community volunteer service.
Suddenly, at age 67, Pinky Zalkin had to reinvent herself yet again.
With the advice, counsel — and business — of her dear friend Joanna Robinson, Zalkin started Anything Arranged.
“This business of Anything Arranged was born when Joanna and I were sitting here at my table, and she said, ‘You could actually start making some money,’” Zalkin said in an interview at her table.
“She’s a terrific organizer. She’s a marvelous consumer advocate. She loves to network” — and she can do pretty much arrange anything she sets her mind to, said Robinson.
Robinson knows this from experience. Several years ago, as a co-founder of Hospitality House homeless shelter, she asked Zalkin to organize everything but the bowls for the 2009 Empty Bowl bread-and-soup fundraiser.
“I had never done anything like that before,” Zalkin said. Nevertheless, “I got over 100 volunteers and over 100 gallons of soup,” said Zalkin, who ran the fundraiser for several years after that.
“She got the soup, she got the volunteers, she arranged for the place — she did everything. She did all the publicity,” Robinson confirmed.
That’s why Robinson became Zalkin’s first customer. She hired Zalkin to find her “a very good used, inexpensive gas dryer” and have it installed.
“And she did that,” Robinson said. “All I had to do was be here when it came.”
Business has been slow since, but Zalkin admits that’s her own fault.
“I’ve been too busy organizing politics for Bernie Sanders,” she said.
She negotiated a good deal from the Foothills Event Center and staged several debate watch parties.
She is proudest, however, of pulling off a “barnstorm volunteer rally” at the request of the Sanders national campaign.
Although she had pneumonia and was given only a couple days’ notice, “It took me an hour. In an hour, I had the place booked — the Banner Grange — recruited volunteers and I had all the publicity arranged,” Zalkin said with great self-satisfaction.
“Hey, it ain’t bragging, if you can do it,” she grinned, quoting famous baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean.
Hoping for at least 100 Bernie supporters, she welcomed more than 300 people who crowded into the training session that Sunday.
But now it’s back to business.
Although she loves to arrange people, Zalkin also loves to organize things.
Gayle James, a 92-year-old WWII veteran (W.A.V.E.), recently lost her husband and moved from her home to a studio apartment at Atria Assisted Living in Grass Valley.
Between her grief and the stress of moving, papers had accumulated “on every flat surface” in her small apartment, Zalkin reported.
“She’s helping me organize the stuff I’ve been avoiding. I just couldn’t deal with it,” James explained during a paper chase in her apartment last week.
The first thing Zalkin did was to acquire a small filing cabinet and fill it with hanging file folders. As of press time, Zalkin and James were cheerfully sorting junk mail from important papers.
“We’re doing great!” reported James, who is not only happy to be getting organized — she’s also enjoying the company.
“I just love to talk with people,” Zalkin enthused.
That’s why she prefers to communicate by phone rather than email.
And that’s probably because if she can talk to you, she can probably talk you into it.
[Full disclosure: This writer has known Pinky Zalkin for many years, and worked together as staff monitors at Hospitality House and have been involved in political and volunteer activities as well. Zalkin did not read or approve this story prior to publication.]
Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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