As Buckets & Bows grew into one of the largest independent maid services in the country, Sardone’s maid consulting business began to take off.

In addition to being called on to help other business owners get their maid services off the ground, she also became a go-to source for cleaning best practices.

Lauded as a national residential cleaning expert — and a savvy businesswoman to boot — the recognition led to a number of professional opportunities, including speaking engagements at business conferences, women’s consortiums and industry trade shows across the country.

At the ISSA/INTERCLEAN convention in 2005, Sardone was hosting a workshop on the personal and professional benefits of “doing well, by doing good.” During the seminar, Sardone shared her long-time company policy. The level of response astounded her.

“I was amazed at how many business owners who wanted to give their services away,” Sardone says. “I came home and said to my husband: ‘I need to start a non-profit.’”

Within a year, Sardone crafted a business plan and used her savoir-faire to barter for everything from logo design, to 501(c)3 designation, to printing services. She gathered her literature and traveled to the next ISSA/INTERCLEAN show, where she planned to officially roll out the organization. In her hotel room the night before the start of the show, Sardone says she was nerve-racked as she prepared her booth materials for the launch.

“I had brochures, all of this stuff done, and my confidence was down and I was feeling a lot of self-doubt,” she says. “I kept thinking: ‘What if no one likes it? What if no one shows up? What if they ignore our table and just walk by?’”

Luckily, people loved the idea. By the end of the trade show, Sardone had 22 commitments from sponsors and maid services, and plenty of expressed interest.

Her pink promotional materials — dispersed throughout the event — were pretty hard to miss, says Bob Starhurski, president and CEO at Nyco Products, and former president of ISSA.

“I kept seeing these pink bags going past and wondering ‘Who are these folks and what are they doing?’” he says. “I walked down to the booth and I met Debbie. I got it in like two seconds.”

Starhurski was so impressed he invited Sardone to the President’s Reception that evening. She reciprocated and invited him to join her board. He accepted the position with earnest.

“Debbie is a visionary,” says Starhurski. “She’s very driven, very passionate and extremely focused. When I saw [Cleaning For A Reason] I thought, ‘What a unique way for people in the facility maintenance or jan/san industry to get involved.’”

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