Helping Cancer Patients and Finding Fulfillment with Lynn Frankenfield from Cleaning for a Reason

Listen to this Show and Learn:

  • The Phone Call hang up that led to over $4 million in free cleaning to cancer patients
  • How a Georgia Cleaner found new joy in her business working with cleaning for a reason
  • Why sharing your values with your community isn’t just fulfilling, it’s good business

Mentions:

Transcription:

[Welcome to the MicroFiber Wholesale show where we talk with cleaning professionals about how to better run and grow your cleaning business. To learn more about who we are and what we do, visit us at microfiberwholesale.com.]

Host:  Today, we have a bit of a different show for you. I’m here today with Lynn Frankenfield from Cleaning for a Reason. So, Lynn, I’ll let you introduce yourself and give us a little bit about your background and then do the same for Cleaning for a Reason. We’re happy to have you on the show today.

Lynn:  Well, thank you for having me. I am Lynn Frankenfield. I’m the executive director of Cleaning for a Reason. We are located in Texas. We are a five-person operation and we are a non-profit that serves women battling any type of cancer throughout the United States and Canada. I got involved with Cleaning for a Reason because my mom is a two-time cancer survivor and I’ve been in the non-profit sector for over 20 years and decided that when she received her second cancer diagnosis, I needed to do something to help women battling cancer. I was fortunate enough to secure a position with Cleaning for a Reason.

Our foundation was established in May of 2006 and so, next year in 2016, we’re going to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. Debbie Sardone is the president and founder of Cleaning for a Reason and she owns a local cleaning service. Many years ago, she took a call from a woman who was inquiring about cleaning. This was long before the days of caller ID and the woman was asking about the cost of cleaning her home. And so when Debbie proceeded to give her a quote, the woman paused and said, “I can’t afford that. I have cancer,” and hung up.

At that point, Debbie had no way of contacting that woman so she made it a company policy that anyone that contacted her cleaning company Buckets & Bows that they would clean cancer patient home for free. She eventually took that company policy and she turned it into a non-profit in May of 2006. In addition to owning the cleaning company, Debbie is also a consultant and so she presented this idea at a conference that she was speaking at and many of the cleaning companies were very enthusiastic and wanted to become part of this nonprofit.

And so today, we are partnered with over 1,200 cleaning companies that have volunteered their time to go out and clean for women. It’s such an incredible thing that they do. They take their time and their resources and they go and help women when they are in need of these services. Many people don’t realize just how grateful patients are for this service because this is something, as a woman, that’s so important.

And so for us as a foundation, it’s our goal to make sure the women are focusing on their health and we’re focusing on their homes. The maid services that we partner with, what they do is they provide four free cleanings once a month for four months and they take two patients on. It’s really a ZIP code-driven type process. Anyone can apply to participate whether they want to volunteer and clean homes but we do ask that they do background screens on their employees and that they can provide insurance.

If someone’s a patient and they want to apply and they may not be able to apply because they don’t have access to a computer, anyone is able to apply on behalf of the patient. They can contact our office by calling 877-337-3348 or going online to cleaningforareason.org and registering as a patient or registering on behalf of a patient in the patient portal. And then what happens is we just ask women that they provide a doctor’s note stating that they’re in treatment for cancer and that’s all that we do. And then the patient is matched with the maid service in their area.

Of course, there’s a couple of things. Because it’s ZIP code-driven, we may or may not have a maid service in that particular area or they may not be open at that particular time but we certainly try to place many women although we can’t place all of the women that apply for us. The need is so great and so for us, we continue to want to help more women and one way that we can do that is by increasing the awareness of the foundation and getting more maid services to participate with us.

Host:  Your story and Debbie’s story are both really inspiring and why we wanted to become involved with what you’re doing, it was inspiring to us and very humbling as well. But I’d love to hear if you have a favorite story or two from having worked at Cleaning for a Reason, stories you’ve seen that have made a difference in these women’s lives.

Lynn:  Well, certainly we want to thank you for your support because without support of our corporate sponsors, Cleaning for a Reason couldn’t do all that we’re doing and so on behalf of Cleaning for a Reason, thank you because that is what helps us to continue to follow our mission of providing the gift of free house cleaning for women battling cancer. So thank you.

Well, we have many, many stories and we hear from patients and we hear from our maid service partners on a regular basis. Many of our maid services join thinking that they’re going to go in and clean and they want to pay it forward because they want to give it back to women in their community. Most recently, I received a phone call from one of our partner maid services in Georgia. She contacted me to let me know that she had recently joined Cleaning for a Reason and she got her first patient and she really didn’t know what to expect and was a little bit apprehensive and uncertain as to how she was going to be received and what she was going to find.

When she arrived to clean the patient’s home, the patient was happy for her to be there but not very inviting. And so this particular maid service partner decided that she was going to try and become a confidant for this patient so that she could feel comfortable opening up to her and having a conversation with her and little by little, she fizzled away the wall that she had built around herself and they became great friends.

Not only did they become great friends, but she would also spend additional time there because the patient began to open up to her in ways that she didn’t open up to her family members. She talked about how debilitating the disease was and how she wished she could do more gardening and cooking and all those things that she enjoyed. And then they began to talk about the inevitable because she was stage 4 and she didn’t have that long to live. They cried together. They laughed together.

In the end, the family recognized what an impact this particular individual had with the patient and so in her last hour, they invited her back to sit with the patient and spend some time with her before she passed. The patient’s name is Catherine, and she sat with her for several hours that day. Before she left, Catherine said to her and thanked her for the time that she spent listening to her, crying with her, laughing with her, and helping her feel more comfortable.

What she wanted to do is she wanted to be able to give back so that more women could experience Cleaning for a Reason. And so she asked her family to designate Cleaning for a Reason as the charity to contribute to in lieu of flowers. It was just incredibly touching and heartwarming for our partner maid service. She still continues to keep in touch with the family and so she said to me, “When I joined, I joined because I wanted to pay it forward but I didn’t realize how fulfilling it was going to be and it didn’t matter that I spent more time with this patient than I had originally planned and I could have been out earning more money from paid customers,” but it gave her that sense of peace knowing that she helped this woman in her final days.

So that was something that was just very touching. And then we have a local patient and she’s a mother of two and had not one, but two cancer diagnosis. She is so grateful for the help because one of the things that she shared with us is that you don’t realize the effects that the treatment and the disease have on you. Having to not think about cleaning your home or worrying about if the beds are made and taking that time and spending it with her children was so important and so she is so grateful that she volunteers for the foundation. She’s a great spokesperson on behalf of the foundation and so we continue to stay in touch with her because she tends to be someone who’s very local.

It’s really amazing because especially for me getting to know patients, many of them I’m talking to over the phone and learning about their stories, but even the women that are more local, really building and developing a bond with them and listening to them and helping them through some challenging times and then of course getting to know our partner maid services that go out and provide the service for our women is absolutely incredible.

And so, every day, it’s something different and it’s so rewarding. If I ever think that I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is reflect back on a phone call with a patient or a conversation with one of our partner maid services about a patient that they’ve cleaned for or a patient that’s passed. And then, you quickly realize that that really falls very low on the scale from one to 10 so it really is something that really rights you and really makes you appreciate each and every day.

Host:  Those are great stories, thanks for sharing. I’m sure I’ll phrase it wrong, but I thought of the Mother Teresa quote: When I look at the many, I’m paralyzed, but when I look at the one I act. And so, it’s very cool to hear the difference it’s made both with partner cleaning companies and with the people you’ve worked with. So that’s very cool.

Lynn:  It is. It is. We’re so grateful for the support that we’ve received from everyone. It really is a team effort to be able to do what we do with the maid services and with the staff team and with our corporate sponsors. It allows us to continue to extend our reach and serve women.

Host:  Well, you mentioned something this earlier but for any cleaning companies that have listened to the interview and are interested in getting involved, what would be the next steps for them to do that?

Lynn:  Well, they could go on to our website, cleaningforareason.org, and they could fill out the inquiry form or the application to partner with Cleaning for a Reason, or they could give us a call at 877-337-3348 and our partner recruiter Lucy would be more than happy to have a conversation with them, talk about their requirements, find out if they have any questions. Of course, we’re there to support them throughout to make sure that we can answer any questions.

One of the things that is also so powerful with this is really letting the community know in which they serve that they’re aligned with a nonprofit foundation. It’s a great marketing tool because when you think about companies, when you’re looking to hire a company or purchase product from a company, we all want to look to a company that is giving back, one that is helping others whether it’s women with cancer or just giving back in general. That’s something that’s very important.

And so one of the things that we provide our partner maid services is our logo so that anybody that is looking to hire our maid service, they know that this maid service is paying it forward and they’re giving back to women battling cancer. The other really important thing for us is our maid services, who are on our website and on our locator map. Whenever we’re talking, whether it’s on radio, TV, or just to an organization or a group, we’re always letting anyone that is within earshot know that if they know a patient, let them know about the foundation.

Also, that if they’re looking to hire our maid service, make sure they have the Cleaning for a Reason logo or they’re affiliated with Cleaning for a Reason because again, we want to make sure that we are promoting all of the maid services that participate with Cleaning for a Reason. And then of course, patronize our sponsors because without our sponsors, we couldn’t continue to follow our mission. And so those are things that are very, very important.

Things that we also do for the maid services besides provide them with a logo, we’ll write a customized press release for them. We’ll be there as a support. We have an affiliation with real news PR which is a PR company within the Dallas, Fort Worth area who will help get the word out about our partners. Of course, we can’t always guarantee that a local news station within their area will pick the story up but they will go out and go above and beyond to pitch a story about our partners and what they’re doing. And so, we’ve received a tremendous amount of media.

We also have Cleaning for a Reason week coming up which is April 18th through the 24th which is National Cleaning for a Reason week and it’s a great opportunity for our maid services to market their affiliation with Cleaning for a Reason. And so some of the things that we do is we have a proclamation and many of our maid services have taken that to their local government and they’ve declared it National Cleaning for a Reason week and it’s an opportunity again to get more media whether it’s print, TV, or radio and it’s also a way to let women know that there is practical help for them today. That’s something that’s really important, to continue to get the word out about who we are and what we do and all of the support that we have.

Host:  Well, thank you very much. I think this will go live probably right around then or in mid-April so everyone, when you hear this, if you want to get involved, we’ll have the numbers, the phone number Lynn mentioned and the links on the site as well if you didn’t get the time, a chance to jot them down. Again, that was Lynn from Cleaning for a Reason. Lynn, thank you very much for joining us today.

Lynn:  Thank you so much, and thank you for your support.

[end of audio]

 

 

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