WHEN A FAMILY MEMBER or a friend has cancer, it’s only natural to feel the need to help. That’s why maid service owner and business consultant Debbie Sardone, whose mother survived ovarian cancer, maintains a longstanding company policy to clean the homes of women with cancer at no cost.
As it turns out, Sardone wasn’t the only one eager to lend a helping hand. “I shared what I was doing with other cleaning companies [at a national convention], and they said, ‘We want to do this too,’” Sardone says. She was inspired to take the idea nationwide, creating Cleaning for a Reason, a nonprofit organization that connects women diagnosed with any type of cancer with local companies that will clean their home for free. “We’re the matchmaker,” explains Sardone. “We match the patient with the maid service. And we support the local maid service ”… with brochures and materials about our program.”
The following websites host online forums with calendars. Members can share news and updates, post requests for help, offer emotional support to others and coordinate tasks like meals, travel and visits.
Over 1,200 companies now participate in the initiative, which operates in almost all 50 states and four Canadian provinces. “In the 12 years [since the nonprofit was founded], ”… we’ve served over 28,000 women with cancer, [with] about $8 million worth of donated services,” Sardone says.
Women or their family members can apply via cleaningforareason.org. If there is a participating cleaning company in the area, all that’s needed is a doctor’s note confirming cancer treatment to receive one free housecleaning per month for two consecutive months.
Sardone wants to get the word out to both cancer patients who need help and cleaning companies that want to join the organization. “Those who have had the cleaning have said they had no idea how walking into a clean house would make them feel,” says Sardone. “It was the most normal they had felt in months. They felt that they had regained some of the control in their life that had been lost because of this illness.”
Consider these suggestions for supporting a friend with cancer.
Make sure your help is welcome. Get permission before visiting, asking questions or giving advice. Be clear that it’s fine if the answer is no.
Be specific. Many people have a hard time asking for and accepting help. Specific offers like “Can I bring over lasagna on Friday?” can make it easy to say yes.
Follow through. If you promise to bring food over or visit, do it. It’s important that you strive to meet any commitment that you make.
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