By Mina Williams Enterprise editor
Women battling cancer have a lot to worry about. One of those things, keeping their homes clean, is being taken on by local cleaning services under the guises of a national partnership.
Through Texas-based Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, 600 cleaning services are paired with women undergoing cancer treatment to provide free services in the United States and Canada.
The foundation was started in 2005 by Debbie Sardone. Sardone, owner of Dallas-area Buckets &Bows Maid Service, had a 15-year standing policy that if a caller requesting an estimate indicated they were undergoing cancer treatment she would offer the service at cost or for free. She took that policy and presented it at an industry conference in the hopes of helping women outside of her area.
Cleaning for a Reason was formed following that presentation. Eleven charter partners signed up, one being Lynnwood-based Clean and Simple Cleaning owned by Stacie McMillan.
“Stacie is enthusiastic and was willing to take patients from the beginning,” Sardone said. “She takes it very seriously.”
McMillan said she admires Sardone who “stepped out in a leap of faith with the organization. I thought she had a good cause and a heart the size of Mount St. Helens. Participating with this group of successful business people is infectious. Why would anyone not want to be a part of it? These clients are women who take pride in their home and at this time need the people they love around them. Nobody wants guests when their toilet is dirty.”
McMillan, in business for 19 years, says Cleaning for a Reason is a great way to give back. “With all the worries that go with cancer treatment, I can certainly take the worry of a clean house off their hands,” she said. “The world has been good to me. It is our obligation to take care of each other.”
Some of these clients’ stories don’t have a great ending, she said.
Clean and Simple donates one cleaning per month for four to six months to referrals from the foundation. The cleaning crew members are paid by the company. However, often to accomplish more tasks they donate their time. A typical cleaning is valued at $125.
The foundation fields thousands of requests a week, particularly after a mention on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” last October. Applications and recommendation forms are at www.cleaningforareason.org. With so many patients requesting the service the foundation limits the time window for applications to about 18 minutes per day. The first 50 applications are processed each day. Then local maid services in the area of the request are contacted and given the patient’s contact information.
For business owners the system is seamless, McMillan said. “I have so many things to do running my business. The foundation screens patients and I don’t have to pick and choose. It would be great if more companies would be on board.”
Mountlake Terrace-based Gaskins Cleaning Services is one of Cleaning for a Reason’s most recent recruits. They have been participating five months, cleaning about three homes per month, according to owner Teresa Gaskins. She heard about the foundation through another cleaning company.
“These clients are going through a lot,” Gaskins said. “This is a perfect match for us. Our business is cleaning and we want to give back to the community.”
Sardone said businesses have been generous with their time and services.
“Even last summer, in the depth of the recession, you would expect companies to not be able to do the service. But, there was no drop in donations,” Sardone said. “That speaks of how our business owners really give from their heart. It’s incredible and goes to show that if you put your heart into what you are doing you can use your business and resources to give back to somebody.”