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Giving the gift of cleaning
The Woodinville Weekly/The Northlake News/The Valley View
September 13 2004
by Deborah Stone Features Writer
"A clean house makes any woman feel good," says Elaine Gordon Evans, owner of Elaine's American Maid, a Redmond-based housecleaning service. "But for a woman with cancer, a clean house lets her feel in control and on top of life."
About a year ago, Evans' mother-in-law was battling breast cancer and she didn't have the energy to clean her house.Evans stepped in and arranged to help her by sending in one of her cleaners."The result was wonderful," adds Evans. "My mother-in-law's mood changed and she felt so much better mentally, which helped her in her fight against the disease. The difference wasreally remarkable."
After having witnessed this change, Evans made the conscious decision to help other women with cancer or those moms who have children with cancer and even men whose wives have died of the disease.Evans provides house cleaning services for free to such individuals, while still paying her cleaners to do the work. She does this by donating her own paychecks back into her cleaning service, which helps cover the costs of doing the free cleaning.
In addition, some of her regular customers donate their own cleaning time when they're on vacation.Evans has helped dozens of people in the past year and views it as providing a good community service."It really seems to lift people's spirits and make them happy. This is the reward for me."
Evans learns of people's needs via word of mouth. She has told all her regular clients to let her know if they know someone in need of such help.In addition, social, workers at hospitals and hospice workers call her.Ernie Nicholson of Snohomish knew Evans because his nephew married her daughter. When Nicholson's wife Ruthie had breast cancer, Evans sent one of her cleaners, Katie McFarland, to clean their house."It really elevated Ruthie's mood," says Evans "and Ernie told me that she was less depressed whenever Katie came to clean."Ruthie passed away several months ago, but the service still continues in order to help Nicholson get his life back together.
As for her cleaners who go out and do these special cleanings, Evans says, "They're the ones who really get touched by the people who they clean for. They strike up amazing relationships with these people. They see themselves doing a real service, one that can make a difference in someone's life."Evans sees the situation as a positive, winning one for everyone involved. She explains, "It's a way to help my cleaners make ends meet, especially in this economic downturn, and it's a way for people to help people. It's about doing something for others and giving this special gift."
Evans currently has 80 women working for her; many of them single moms who are trying to get on their feet. She can relate to them, as she was once in their situation."My cleaning business was what helped support me as a single mom and helped give me financial independence," She says, "I want to expand the service because I see the impact it's making. I hope to open a trust account for the foundation in the near future. I have some good people involved and hope, comments Evans. "It allowed me to buy a home and raise my kids."
Evans sees her business as a way to empower other women. She explains, "All of my cleaners are subcontractors and I encourage them to start their own maid services. I help them learn about entrepreneurship and in this way I help them to help themselves. If you work hard, it will pay off and success will eventually come. I should know because I made it on my own."
Evans and her former husband of one year, hydroplane racer Mark Evans, are in the process of creating a foundation to make the free housecleaning service available to more people.
Hopefully the process of setting it all up won't take too long.' For Evans, it's about giving back and giving to those in need.She adds, "I'm successful and financially secure in my life. I'm in a position to help others. Besides, you can't not give good things in life, can you?"