ARTHUR RACKLEY said DePaul House helped him clean up his life. Now he's helping to return the favor to the support center for the city's homeless.

"This place is all about giving guys like me a second chance," he said. "When they asked me to come back and work for them, how could I say no?"

Rackley is one of seven members of Immaculate Cleaning, a janitorial franchise started by the DePaul House last week. The franchise operates out of DePaul's office in Germantown and employs homeless men who come to the center for shelter, counseling and career-placement services. It operates as a springboard for these men to find other, more permanent positions.

"In our experience, employment is fundamental in getting these men off the street and into permanent residency," said Chuck Levesque, DePaul's executive director. "We settled on a cleaning service because some of our members have worked similar jobs in the past and it builds on the skills they already have."

Levesque and his staff started the franchise, the first of its kind at DePaul, through a small business loan from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation. Some of the profits made by the cleaning service will be funneled back into the center and used to supplement other programs.

"This is a new strategy for us, and we're excited to see how it'll work," said Levesque. "I have the utmost confidence in these guys, and I'm sure Immaculate Cleaning will flourish under their hard work."

To reinforce DePaul's lessons on job placement and professionalism, the Immaculate Cleaning employees had to apply and interview for their positions with Heits Building Supply, the franchise's parent company, which provided formal training for its latest recruits.

"These guys have been dedicated and motivated from the start," said Bob Falasco, the president of Heits. "Cleaning is hard, roll-up-your-sleeves work, and we're sure it will give them the energy and determination to better themselves." n

Contact Vinny Vella at 215-854-5926 or