Lifestyle
March 24, 2013 • 05:46:20 p.m.

The Cleaning Authority of Cary cleans homes of women with cancer

Joins national nonprofit Cleaning for a Reason

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Elgin homeowner Gina O'Connor chats with The Cleaning Authority crew member Jessica Martinez. The home-based cleaning company based in Cary has joined up with a national campaign - Cleaning for a Reason to provide free cleaning in the homes of women battling cancer. (H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)

While Gina O'Connor fights breast cancer, the mom of three doesn't need to worry about keeping up her home.

The Cleaning Authority in Cary does that for her. For free.

The company has joined with a nationwide nonprofit group, Cleaning for a Reason, that offers free professional house cleanings to women undergoing cancer treatment. 

It seems so simple, but yet, a clean home can make a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients, say those involved.

"It means a lot," said O'Connor of Elgin, who was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2012. She was on her third of four scheduled chemo treatments this past week. 

After that, it's radiation treatments. She's more tired than usual and has experienced "weird little quirks," such as swallowing issues, watery eyes and such.

"It's not a walk in the park, that's for sure, but it's a little better than I thought," she said. "It could have been worse."

Having someone else clean her home for free once a month has relieved a bit of the stress that comes with enduring the treatments.

"They're cleaning all the toilets, the showers. ... I'm not supposed to be touching a lot of chemicals," she said. "It's just so helpful to have them come out and do it. They just seem like they're very organized. They just seem like they have it together."

Once featured on Oprah a few years back, Cleaning for a Reason has helped more than 12,000 women with cancer in the United States and Canada with more than $3.2 million in donated cleanings so far. 

The Cleaning Authority, run by husband-and-wife David and Beth Robak, sought out the organization in December. A longtime customer of theirs was diagnosed with cancer, and that opened their eyes to the need to help others struggling with the disease.

"We just started looking around at what else we could do," David Robak said. 

His 10-year-old business tries to help at least two or three patients a month. Cleaning teams go to the homes just as they would for regular customers. 

"They get a whole lot of muscle they don't have at the moment," David Robak said.

Cleaning for a Reason is set up so cancer patients can go to the site, cleaningforareeason.org, and request help. The organization then refers those who qualify to one of the about 1,000 cleaning companies that have agreed to partner with it.

Yet, Robak has referred potential customers who've called him up looking to pay for services to Cleaning for A Reason, which then refers them back to his business. That way, they get the cleanings for free.

That was the case with Jerry and Cathy Olexa of Crystal Lake. Jerry had called Robak to see about hiring a clean team for his home while his elderly wife struggles with breast cancer. She just completed her first phase of chemotherapy.

After mentioning this to Robak, he was directed to Cleaning for a Reason and was approved the next day.

"We were extremely pleased with the quick response and caring and compassionate attitude," Jerry Olexa said.

The son of an oncologist nurse, Robak said his family has never suffered a personal loss to the disease. 

But, he said, "I've been relatively close to it my whole life."

He and the 50 employees of his business see how appreciative the cancer patients are of their work.

Robak also has started a campaign in which customers can donate the value of their cleans to those who've qualified for free cleans through Cleaning for A Reason. The hope is to help even more patients a month.

"The teams feel like they're giving a bit back, as well. Most of my cleaners have had someone in their families touched by cancer," he said. "This is probably the first time in their lives they've had the opportunity to give back. It makes them feel good."


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