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Entrepreneur’s Elbow Grease Helps Shelters Shine

At 27, her husband left her with two small children and “a shoebox full of bills.” In search of a job where she could bring her children along, (the youngest was one month old), Joy Krause started cleaning houses. Over the next 20 years, Krause transformed her one-woman cleaning team into one of the biggest cleaning businesses in the northeastern United States.

After selling the business three years ago and a chance visit to a children’s homeless shelter, Krause knew what her next project would be: philanthropic cleaning. Late last year she started the Sparkle America project, for which she travels to children’s shelters all over the country, cleaning them and providing warmth to the children. By garnering local media coverage each time she visits a shelter, Krause hopes to raise the public’s awareness of the desperate need: for money, volunteers, and foster parents who can provide a “safe, loving home.”

Italian Catholic by birth, Krause converted to Judaism when she married her second husband. In her recently published book, Spring Cleaning for the Soul, a collection of lively stories about past customers and life experiences, Krause recalls her moments under the huppah. “During the ceremony, my husband smashed a glass with his foot….
My mother, thinking a chalice had dropped accidentally, ran under the huppah to pick up the sharp pieces before someone hurt themselves. The startled rabbi, who was just about to wish us L’Chayim and Mazel Tov, was speechless and never did get around to the marriage blessing.” On a more serious note, Krause writes, “What I learned from being Jewish was to keep an open mind about all religions because we are probably more alike than not.”

To join the Sparkle America Campaign, call (800) 791-8799.