Denise Lewis started her own cleaning business in Holly Ridge called Life Maid Easy after moving to the town in 2003. She also works with Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, a charity that partners with maid services who clean the houses of women battling cancer for free.
Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 at 17:15 PM.
Denise Lewis has long had a heart for the ill.
Before the Ft.Lauderdale, Fla. Native started her own business; she worked as a health care provider in nursing homes and for homebound patients. After 18 years on that job, she called it quits.
“I felt that I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Lewis. “People you worked with on a daily basis would literally die.”
In 2007, Lewis started her own cleaning business in Holly Ridge called Life Maid Easy after moving to the town in 2003.
But she grew to miss health care and helping those that needed it most. Three years after Life Maid Easy got off the ground; Lewis received a postcard that changed the way she ran her business. It came from the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, a charity that partners with maid services to clean the houses of women battling cancer. For Lewis, becoming a partner was an easy decision.
“It was a no brainer,” said Lewis. “Helping people is what I do.”
Registration for the foundation is done through the Cleaning for a Reason website. For verification purposes, a form that specifies the treatment must be signed by the potential client’s physician. Cleaning for a Reason will then send an e-mail to a partner company nearest to the potential client. Maids work up to four free man hours and the partner company will send employees to clean houses at no charge up to four times.
Lewis’ Life Maid Easy is one of those partner companies.
Lewis said she recommends clients prioritize what they want done since they are eligible for a limited number of visits. Lewis also said her employees will clean anything that is reachable from the floors.
Lewis said the women she has worked with through Cleaning for a Reason have shown a durable and appreciative outlook.
“They have to keep up with average, every day things like looking after their families,” said Lewis. “They seemed very appreciative of the help we gave them.”
But in March, Lewis’ life took another change. She was diagnosed with lung cancer. The woman who had offered to clean the homes of women fighting cancer now found herself in the middle of the fight.
“I was devastated,” said Lewis.
Lewis’ minister, Mark Foster of LibertyBaptistChurchin HollyRidge, said he was “shocked” when he heard about Foster’s diagnosis. For a lady he described as a fighter, he said this would be her toughest bout yet; but he believes she’ll be up for it.
“She gets knocked down, but she never gives up,” said Foster. “Cancer’s her biggest fight, but she’s approaching it with the same fighter’s attitude.”
Foster said that though Lewis is a fighter, her business has been an instrument of generosity.
“She’s a giver,” said Foster. “She’s been using this business to be a blessing to ladies who are struggling. Now, she finds herself in the same situation as the ladies she’s been helping.”
Lewis said that though her cancer treatment has forced her to put fewer hours in at the office and hire additional people to help her with some of her day-to-day tasks in the office, she says she doesn’t plan on changing the way she does business at Life Maid Easy, including her work with Cleaning for a Reason.
“With Cleaning for a Reason, it’s not going to impact anything except now I’ll be more aware of what women with cancer are going through,” said Lewis.
One member of Lewis’ staff who understands the battle with cancer is Kimberly Tomson, who had uterine cancer. She has been working for Life Maid Easy since June 2012, said her purpose through Cleaning for a Reason is to keep life as simple as possible for women who usually have very little strength, even if their own pride might make them reluctant to reach out for help.
“It’s not a hand out,” said Tomson. “When you’re already sick and weak and tired from everything else, cleaning should be the least of your worries.”
Tomson has done three Cleaning for a Reason projects with Life Maid Easy and said though she’s never met any of the clients, she felt a connection with them as a comrade in arms against cancer.
“At least you could put a smile on their face for one afternoon after cleaning their home,” said Tomson.
Lewis said that with the help of a “great” staff at Life Maid Easy, along with a support system made up of her family and the congregation at Liberty, including Foster, she will keep up the good fight,
“I don’t know how I’d make it through without them,” said Foster. “They’ve been cooking meals for me and they even sent me pajamas and slippers while I was at the hospital. I couldn’t have asked for better care.
To contact Life Maid Easy and find out more about their work with Cleaning for a Reason, call 910-329-9983.
Christopher Thomas is a staff writer for the Jacksonville Daily News. To contact him, call 910-219-8473 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.