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Columbia's Queen of Clean

For members of the Columbia community, the necessity of a clean environment has become paramount with the anticipation of reopening local stores and businesses. Frontline worker Lakeysha Claxton is utilizing her talents to bring comfort and support to the community throughout the quarantine lockdown. Born with a steadfast initiative and a fierce entrepreneurial spirit, Claxton moved from Baltimore to Columbia nearly two decades ago, when she established her family of three beautiful daughters, while attending business courses at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in 2014. For the past six years, Claxton has used her business knowledge to establish Homeland Custodial Services, a company dedicated to providing a disinfected environment through customized cleaning.

Claxton has taken her professional duties one step further and has made extreme efforts to support her community by hiring more employees. Since the beginning of the quarantine lockdown in March, the demand for janitorial and custodial services has skyrocketed while other industries were forced to close their doors. Claxton has strived to provide an opportunity for laid-off union members, increasing her workforce by 150 percent in the last two months from within their ranks. An extrovert and lover of people, Claxton desired to give alternative positions to those who needed them most, particularly former members of unions. Many of the individuals laid off from union positions have been working in this industry since they were young adults, and now struggle to navigate an uncertain job market. Claxton wanted to create a space for new hires to not only gain employment but feel supported by the community. “I developed this company to not only support my family but everyone’s family. My staff, my community, the people who come inside of these places—I want them to be comforted knowing that we did our best to ensure their own protection from COVID-19.”

Homeland Custodial is well-versed in intensive regulations placed on local businesses to reopen. In 2017, Claxton earned a contract with the Department of Homeland Security, becoming certified in the removal and disposal of bio-hazardous waste. Despite the company predominantly undertaking janitorial services before the outbreak, they were ready to combat the spread of the virus through their preparedness. Adhering to strict CDC guidelines, Homeland Custodial conducts a two-step process of cleaning and disinfecting every location they visit. The company implements the use of electrostatic spray, which assists in a better coating of surfaces allowing for a more complete clean. Claxton has set the expectation for all employees to receive extensive training in public maintenance and safety precautions, including being outfitted in a Tyvek suit (covers from head to toe), PPE masks, and gloves any time they enter a public space. The state of Maryland slowly began to relax the stay at home restrictions back in May. Since that time, Claxton and Homeland Custodial Services have been busy assisting in decontamination efforts.

She encourages her colleagues in the industry to protect their staff and customers alike, by providing the proper equipment and working conditions.

 Although Claxton has been passionately serving on the front lines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, she enjoys her time away from her profession as well. A lover of nature and recreational activities, Claxton is excited about returning to Lake Elkhorn with her family. She is eager to travel again, and looks forward to the opportunity to visit her mother and grandmother in North Carolina. In the meantime, Claxton has been maintaining her mental health by reaching out towards loved ones, setting a goal to connect with at least two people per day. She also has found peace through weekly Zoom Bible studies and video chatting with friends and family.