Tuesday, February 26, 2013 by: Jennifer Patterson, Times Union
For some women battling cancer, once mundane tasks like vacuuming and washing dishes take a herculean effort.
Between doctors appointments, treatments, recovery time and the constant struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy, the added stress of home upkeep can be physically and emotionally draining. And for those going through chemotherapy with compromised immune systems, having a clean home isn’t about being a neat freak — it’s paramount for recovery.
Understanding these challenges is what motivates members of Cleaning for a Reason, a network of more than 1,000 professional cleaners across the country which helps women with cancer by cleaning their homes for free. Founded in 2006 by Debbie Sardone in Lewisville, Texas, the nonprofit has donated more than 11,000 free cleanings valued at nearly $3 million.
Cleaning for a Reason expanded its reach in the Capital Region last month by partnering with Albany Home Cleaning, based in Latham. Other local cleaning services affiliated with the nonprofit include Clean By Nature, Life Maid Simple Cleaning & Organizing, the Maids of Albany and the Maids of Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties.
“Between pushing a vacuum, dusting and scrubbing toilets, housecleaning can be exhausting,” said Albany Home Cleaning owner Katie Whitt, a Colonie native and mother of three. “What I love is giving back, and Cleaning for a Reason is a great way to do just that.”
Katie Whitt, owner of Albany Home Cleaning. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union)
What started two years ago as a side business for Whitt quickly grew into a full-time venture. She hired Crystal Chotkowski as a supervisor in 2011 and now employs 12 cleaners.
Albany Home Cleaning is currently donating its services to three women with cancer and hopes to help more this year. Clients receive four two-and-a-half-hour cleanings over two months, valued at about $400.
Whitt has also partnered with Cleaning for Heroes, a nonprofit founded in 2010 by Anne Aldridge-Baligian in Rhode Island. She took action after being unable to find an organization that could coordinate cleaning companies willing to donate services to disabled and elderly veterans, and now, much like Cleaning for a Reason, partners cleaning companies across the country.
“I can’t image what our clients are facing, and they’re so appreciative for us doing our small part,” said Whitt, who also works with her husband, Brian, at DWM Facilities Maintenance. “I wish there was something more we could do.”
Mary Shanks of Cohoes applied for the cleaning service last month for her 92-year-old mother, also named Mary, who is fighting stage 4 cancer. After sending a note from her mother’s oncologist to Cleaning for a Reason, she was emailed back with Albany Home Cleaning’s information.
Shanks says her mother, who is receiving chemotherapy by pill, is a spry nonagenarian who loves makeup, jewelry and the racino.
“With this service for my mom, I feel like I can stop and breath for a minute,” said Shanks, who helps care for her mother. “We know her time is limited, but she wants another year because, as she says, ‘I have things to do.’”
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Maid to help
Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit organization that partners with professional house cleaning services across the country to help women with cancer. To make a donation or to apply for free home cleaning, call (877) 337-3348 or click here.