After Kara Colantuono was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last July, she received 4½ months of chemotherapy, followed by a mastectomy in January and then radiation five days a week for more than six weeks.
The chemotherapy left her sick and without energy, and the surgery made her unable to lift heavy objects. For the 35-year-old, self-employed Wheaton woman, house cleaning had to become a low priority.
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Cleaning for a Reason partnersCleaning for a Reason works with the following local companies:
Arlington Heights: Fresh Tech Maids
Aurora: Always There Concierge and BC Cleaning
Barrington: Happy Maids, Inc.
Downers Grove: McMaid Downers Grove
Elmhurst: Helping Hands Cleaning Service
Glendale Heights: McMaid Glendale Heights
Naperville: Simply Clean Inc. of West Suburbs of Chicago
Villa Park: Crown Service Systems
West Chicago: Maid Brigade and The Maids of DuPage
Contact cleaningforareason.org to apply.
Her family organized a big cleanup of her condo last fall, but getting everyone together can be difficult, said her mother, Christina Colantuono.
Then The Maids of DuPage County stepped in. A four-women cleaning crew scrubbed, vacuumed and dusted Colantuono's condo in March, returned in April and will come back for two more months free.
"I feel so grateful there's this service because it helps relieve a lot of my stress," Kara Colantuono said. "It just means a lot (that) there are people out there wanting to help."
West Chicago-based The Maids of DuPage is one of many cleaning companies across the country and in the Chicago area that have partnered with the Texas-based Cleaning for a Reason Foundation to provide free house cleanings for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Colantuono's mother contacted the organization after Colantuono found out about Cleaning for a Reason on Facebook. Christina Colantuono met the cleaning crew on their first visit to her daughter's condo and gave them a hug when they left.
"I was very touched when I met the cleaning crew that came to the house," she said. "They were so friendly and they worked so well together."
Adriana Soto, one of the crew that cleaned Colantuono's condo, said she was pleased to be part of the cleaning team.
"It felt really, really good to help someone," she said. "Coming home to a clean house, I (bet) she felt really, really good."
Mike Rosen, owner of The Maids of DuPage franchise, said his company was glad to partner with Cleaning for a Reason. Women with cancer or their families submit applications to Cleaning for a Reason, which then looks to see if it has a local cleaning company partner in their area to serve them.
The Maids of DuPage serves Lombard, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Addison, Glendale Heights and Villa Park.
"It's a joy to work with these folks (women with cancer) because we know they're going through some really hard times," he said. "We donate a couple cleanings a month to women in the area who are undergoing cancer treatment."
Rosen said he pays his crews for the cleanings and donates the cleaning materials they bring.
"We're not compensated at all," he said.
Crown Service Systems, a commercial cleaning service based in Villa Park, also recently signed on to partner with Cleaning for a Reason.
"We've cleaned four homes so far and we love it," owner Heidi Willis said. "Cleaning for a Reason is a great organization. I really believe in what they're trying to promote."
Cleaning for a Reason was founded as a nonprofit in 2006 by Debbie Sardone, the owner of Texas cleaning company, after she received a call from a woman who inquired about her company's services, but said she couldn't afford them because she was undergoing cancer treatment.
Since then Cleaning for a Reason has partnered with 1,085 cleaning services in the United States and Canada that have performed more than 17,000 cleanings. Lynn Frankenfield, the executive director of Cleaning for a Reason, said as the word spreads, the demand has grown.
"On average, we have about 800 women applying on a monthly basis," she said.
Cleaning for a Reason partners only with companies that perform background checks on employees and are bonded and/or insured. Word has spread through referrals, conferences, media coverage, and Cleaning for a Reason's website and Facebook page, she said.
"We have over 190,000 fans (on Facebook)," she said.
Partner companies are asked to provide a least two free cleanings a month to cancer patients within their service areas. Applicants must provide a note from their doctor to verify they are undergoing cancer treatment to receive one free monthly cleaning for four consecutive months.
Cleaning for a Reason does not dictate to its partners what must be cleaned or how long the cleaning should take, but asks those receiving services to provide a priority list of what to clean, Frankenfield said.
"It's really needed by women. There's nothing more important than having them focus on their health and not worry about cleaning their house," she said. "It's a service that really helps out women and their family tremendously."
Cleaning for a Reason restricts the service to women undergoing cancer treatment simply because of limited resources, according to its website.
Women undergoing cancer treatment, or a family member, should contact cleaningforareason.org, not a local partner, to apply.