Free cleaning eases burden of Battle Creek woman with cancer
By NICK BUCKLEY
Battle Creek Enquirer
AP Member Exchange
BATTLE CREEK — Danielle Smith and Angela Pitcher looked like longtime friends as they sat comfortably on a couch, sharing laughter and tears, chatting for the better part of an hour.
Smith, 27, was lively and candid as she reflected on the physical and emotional toll cancer has taken on her and her family.
A married mother of six, she was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer three months ago, and chemotherapy has sapped her of much of her energy.
But on this day, Smith confirmed what her smile already showed.
“Today is my strongest day,” she said.
Pitcher, 34, learned of Smith’s plight through a fundraising effort on Facebook.
The owner of Home Pride Cleaning in Battle Creek, she determined that Smith would be the first recipient of a free cleaning service, provided through her new nonprofit, Giving Pride Back.
“I started Giving Pride Back so we could pay a cleaner, but the patients don’t have to pay for the house to be cleaned,” Pitcher said. “The goal, at least starting in 2020, every week I want a new cancer patient and I want to clean for them. I would love to clean for them all the time, but that can be really expensive.”
Although each home is different, Pitcher said the value of the cleaning service is roughly $200. She and the four-member board for Giving Pride Back have started a fundraising campaign for donors help cover those costs. They are in the process of filing for 501(c)(3) status so that donations can be tax deductible.
To Smith, the November visit was far more valuable than a free house cleaning.
“They were really sweet and understanding. I felt comfortable enough to sleep through the whole thing,” she said. “They did good. It was just a really good feeling. After meeting them, they came in with the (gift) basket and stuff and we talked for a really good time and it made me feel good. I feel like I have another person’s support.”
Pitcher provided cleaning services for two Battle Creek-area cancer patients earlier this year through the Texas-based nonprofit Cleaning for a Reason.
Launched in 2006, Cleaning for a Reason connects any household afflicted with cancer with one of more than 1,200 partner cleaning companies who donate their services. Friends or relatives can apply on behalf of a recipient through the nonprofit’s website and Cleaning for a Reason will confirm with the cancer patient’s doctor that they are eligible.
Jeannie Henderson of Portage first learned of Cleaning for a Reason through her friend and “coach,” Debbie Sardone, a nationally-recognized leader in the maid service industry who founded the nonprofit.
Henderson’s company, Jeannie Cleaning, cleans for at least two cancer patients in Kalamazoo County each month. In October, they did a special “Cleaning for Cancer” day, providing services to five households afflicted with cancer.
“It’s a win-win for anyone who signs up for it,” Henderson said. “It’s a great reward for the workers. It’s a great way to show that you care. Cleaning is a great way to relieve stress in the home. When your home is clean, it is very calming.
“That’s why we feel so strongly, they need to heal in an environment with as little stress as possible.”
Along with reducing stress, a clean and sanitized home offers better protection from harmful germs for those with weakened immune systems. Cleaning providers will also work with patients who suffer from nausea to ensure that the natural or naturally-derived products they use aren’t too harsh.