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Willmar women offer their business to cancer patients

Barb Negen, left, and Amy DeBoer, owners of Clean Sweep Central, have signed up to donate house cleaning services for women un-dergoing cancer treatment. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

WILLMAR -- Barb Negen and Amy DeBoer clean for a living.

Now they'll clean for a cause.

Negen and DeBoer, who operate a commercial cleaning business in Willmar called Clean Sweep Central Inc., recently signed up as volunteers with a national foundation that provides free home cleaning to women undergoing cancer treatment.

They're the first cleaning business in the area to sign up for the volunteer service through Cleaning for a Reason.

"It's really down our alley," said Negen. "It's an opportunity for us to help women going through cancer."

Based in Lewisville, Texas, the nonprofit foundation solicits professional, licensed and bonded cleaning services across the country that are committed to provide the "gift of a clean home to women undergoing treatment for cancer," according to promotional materials from the foundation.

Both Negen, of Willmar, and DeBoer, of Prinsburg, say they know women who have had cancer and were faced with the challenges of maintaining their home while having treatments that sapped their energy. Negen had her own experience with cancer and knows firsthand the emotional and physical drain it can have.

They heard about the organization during a recent television news report from the Twin Cities and decided to sign up and volunteer.

The women said they've always tried to do something in the community "as a way to give back," but this volunteer opportunity struck a chord.

"It'll be good for us. It's good for the heart," said Negen.

To receive the free house-cleaning service, women contact Cleaning for a Reason. The foundation then contacts the nearest cleaning service on their list and gives the service the names of the women.

"It's so new to Minnesota," said DeBoer. There are currently 21 cleaning services on the list, with most in the metro area. Besides Clean Sweep Central in Willmar, a cleaning service in St. Cloud and one in Hutchinson have so far registered with Cleaning for a Reason.

"It's such a new thing that I don't think people are aware it's out there," said DeBoer. "We're taking steps to get the word out."

There are no income guidelines to qualify for the free service and the registration paperwork is minimal. Some medical verification is required during the sign-up process to indicate the timeline of the cancer treatment.

"They're trying to keep it very simple because the women are going through a lot already," said Negen.

Because of the demand for services, the foundation accepts a limited number of new applicants every day, according to its website.

Under the agreement, Negen and DeBoer will clean the homes of two cancer patients once a month for four months. After that four-month commitment is completed, they'll be given the names of two more women.

The plan is to provide general house cleaning, or focus on a cleaning project that the recipient wants and needs done, while promising confidentiality. They'll use their own environmentally safe cleaning chemicals.

Although their small company has a staff of paid cleaners, only Negen and DeBoer will be involved with the volunteer home cleaning. The women also agree to donate money to the foundation to keep it operating.

While waiting for their first referral, they've been advised to be prepared to listen as much as clean.

"We are eager and happy to do this," said Negen.

To contact the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, call 1-877-337-3348 or go to:

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750