No one really says, “cleanliness is next to godliness” anymore. It’s passed out of the general vernacular and children are no longer admonished with the maxim when they forget to wash their hands. We no longer associate tidiness with some sort of deeper-level moral perfection.
At least… not out loud. Goodness knows that many women still do feel pressured to keep their homes perfectly ordered and sparkling at all times. If unexpected guests show up and we haven’t washed every last dish in the sink, we’ll make profuse apologies for the slovenly state of things. Even without prospective guests, we usually feel more accomplished with at least a semi-tidy house. A clean house is a calm, peaceful place, and that’s especially important if you are going through cancer treatment.
The problem is, of course, that if you’re going through cancer treatment, keeping your house clean may be as realistic as climbing Everest in flip flops. And while cancer treatment is an excellent reason not to clean your house, a messy house can add stress to an already-stressful time. If only there were people with brooms and mops willing to come to your rescue! Well, meet your new fairy godmother: Cleaning for a Reason, a nonprofit that pairs women fighting cancer with professional cleaning service, free of charge.
It all started when the organization’s founder, Debbie Sardone, called a client to follow up about a possible cleaning. The prospective client simply told Debbie that she was undergoing cancer treatment and would not be able to afford a cleaning service. Before Debbie could respond, the person hung up.
Debbie decided that would be the last time someone would lose out on a clean house because of cancer treatment. She began offering free cleaning services to women going through cancer, and when she shared what she was doing at an industry convention, other cleaning services got excited and Cleaning for a Reason was born.
Melody Montgomery, a franchise owner for Two Maids and a Mop, got involved in 2018. Melody lost her sister to cancer and remembers how much she wanted to be able to help. “I just always felt like, ‘What can I do to make anything about this better for you? I know how much this part of your life sucks, and if I could take away one little piece of the burden — even if it’s only a Lego block out of a whole building — I would do it,’” she said. Now partnered with Cleaning for a Reason, Melody has found her Lego block.
Cleaning for a Reason recruits housecleaning services around the United States (currently 1,200 of them) and connects them with cancer patients in their area. The cleaning services donate the labor, and Cleaning for a Reason coordinates the service. Each patient receives two free cleanings scheduled a month apart. Since the service was started in 2006, the service has cleaned for 30,200 women fighting cancer, donating about $10 million worth of service.
But it’s not about the numbers. The service provides a blessing for both the patient and the cleaning professionals. Women like Melody know that it’s often hard for women to ask for help, especially with cleaning. “Most of them would never ask their neighbor, ‘Hey, will you come and clean my bathroom?’ So we have to tell them, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t put stuff away. Don’t do anything except open the door,’” she says.
Take a peek at one of the thank-you notes written to Cleaning for a Reason:
“Of all the wonderful support and services I received during chemo last summer, yours was my favorite. I scheduled my cleanings [with Merry Maids of Woodbridge, VA] on the same days as treatments… I can’t tell you how nice it was to come home to a professionally cleaned house after a loooooong day in the chemo chair. Can’t thank you enough!”
-Katherine from Montclair, VA
If you are interested in donating to Cleaning for a Reason or applying for housecleaning services, check out their website!
Watch one of the Cleaning for a Reason teams in action below!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.