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The W ConnectionThe W Connection | Cleaning for a Reason | Fresh RX


The W Connection | Cleaning for a Reason | Fresh RX


The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things a person can go through. For many, rebuilding one's life after the death of a spouse can be a monumental undertaking. In these trying times, sometimes the thing a person needs most is a helping hand. The women at The W Connection try to do just that, providing a support network for widows to rebuild their lives.

The W Connection was an organization founded in 2007 by a group of women in New York who had recently lost their husbands. What started as a local, tight-knit group has evolved into a national organization with chapters in California, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Although the organization has several different locations across the country, their mission is the same; to offer widows a safe space to communicate with other widows and begin the healing process. Susan Gross is the leader of the Philadelphia chapter of The W Connection, the first satellite chapter of the organization. The challenges that come with losing a spouse are numerous and wide-ranging, and Susan stresses that The W Connection is not a group centered around grief and mourning, but rather helping women find a positive outlook on the rest of their lives. Often, these women can feel there is no safe place to discuss the issues they face on a daily basis. Sybil Schwartz, a Delaware native and W Connection member describes it as a “safe haven for people who’ve lost a spouse”, a place for women to connect and support each other as they face new challenges in life. 

The organization meets once a month to cover a wide range of topics. From financial advice to dealing with the holidays, the meetings are an outlet for women to open up about the many issues they face as new widows. These meetings are not only a place for women to vent but offer different exercises and activities that might help widows overcome their grief, which could involve guest speakers or even writing haikus. A common sentiment among widows is that, after losing a husband, they feel out of place in normal society. Coming from a world where most people are in some kind of relationship, it is easy to feel isolated and unwanted. The cycle of grief can make it feel impossible to move on with your life. The W Connection provides a safe community for widows to join when they feel out of place in their normal lives. It shows them that life does go on after the death of a loved one, and that it’s possible to live a fulfilling life. The network of widows that The W Connection creates empowers these women and proves that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


There are few events that impact a person’s life as deeply as a cancer diagnosis. For many, it has been the beginning of a lifelong struggle in which every facet of their life must take a backseat to this disease. It is an intense journey that requires a tremendous amount of strength and determination, leaving little time to focus on menial day-to-day jobs. During this time, keeping your house clean and tidy should be the least of your worries. The nonprofit organization Cleaning for a Reason aims to address this.

Cleaning for a Reason was started by Debbie Sardone after she received a call from a cancer patient requesting her cleaning service. The woman was in desperate need of help to clean her house, but had no money or energy to devote to cleaning during her cancer treatment. It was then that Debbie decided to form Cleaning for a Reason, so no cancer patient would ever have to worry about living in filth. The nonprofit organization offers free maid services to women undergoing cancer treatments for up to four months. According to Kathleen Albertson, a volunteer coordinator with Cleaning for a Reason, a person only needs a note from a doctor confirming her condition, and the maid service will take care of the rest. Although it seems like just a drop in the bucket in terms of living with cancer, free house cleanings provide a surprising amount of relief for cancer patients. For a mother of four or an elderly woman living alone, maintaining your house while undergoing chemotherapy is an almost Herculean task. It saps valuable energy that could be put towards recovery and requires money that is already going towards medicine. For many women, a free cleaning service during these times is a godsend.

After Pamela S. Janvey was diagnosed with cancer, everyday tasks like cleaning became almost impossible. Even making the bed was a challenge… sometimes taking up to an hour because Pamela needed to sit down every few minutes. For Pamela, seeing her house deteriorate in front of her while she endured chemotherapy was a major strain on her mental health. Having a maid service to help clean her house not only took a task off of Pamela’s plate, but also gave her the mental power and courage to keep fighting. According to Pamela, during cancer treatment, every little bit helps. Even something as simple as the state of your house could make a difference, and Cleaning for a Reason gave her the edge she needed to overcome her cancer. Cleaning for a Reason allows patients to devote more time and energy on themselves and their recovery. Through a small service and a great deal of empathy, Cleaning for a Reason is changing the lives of cancer patient’s -- one woman at a time.


Although fruits and vegetables are a vital part of the human diet, in many parts of the country access to them is extremely limited. Inner city communities often have little to no access to fresh produce, forcing many to forgo the nutritional benefits the body needs. However, a new program lead by Temple Universities Bioethics department and the nonprofit group Farm to Families hopes to change that and bring fresh fruits and vegetables back to the inner city.

For many living in urban or low-income areas, grocery stores are few and far between. Most rely on corner stores and mini-marts for their groceries, two stores that rarely have access to fresh produce. A community or environment with no real access to food besides these stores creates what nutritionists call a “food desert”, and it’s a growing problem for many communities. Even when there are grocery stores available, fresh fruits and vegetables are often not covered by food stamps, making it a problem unique to many low-income families. Kathleen Reeves, the Director of Temple University’s Center for Bioethics, hopes to change that, with her new program Fresh Rx. Fresh Rx connects with doctors and physicians around the Philadelphia area and encourages them to write prescriptions for fruits and vegetables. Not only does this raise awareness of healthy eating and living habits, but it manages to lower the cost of fresh produce by giving patients an actual prescription, which they can redeem with certain nonprofit organizations in exchange for fruits and vegetables.

The program is run in conjunction with the nonprofit group Farm to Families, who aim to get low-income families across the country better access to healthy food. Mariah Butler, a program manager for Farm to Families, outlines the process for delivering food to Philadelphia locals. It’s as simple as calling them at any of their locations, placing your order, and then showing up with a prescription to buy your produce at a greatly reduced price. The program is already receiving attention from Philadelphia natives, who have taken advantage of the new access to fresh food. Shekeeta Bently, a Fresh Rx participant, praises the new program for its convenience and describes how it has given her the opportunity to cook healthy and exciting meals for her family. The next step, as Kathleen sees it, are to perform scientific studies on the effects of having readily-available produce in low-income neighborhoods. She’s confident that the scientific community will soon adopt their mission to deliver fresh and healthy food to urban communities around the world. 

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