From Humble Beginnings to 35 Years of Dedicated Passion within the Cleaning Industry

By Laura M. DiGiulio
Editor of Executive Housekeeping Today
While the majority of people do not figure out what they would like to do as a profession until their 20s, at just 11 years old, Rose Galera entered the housekeeping industry, working as a weekend clothes ironer for a large neighboring family by her home in Hawaii. A year later, at the age of 12, she became the live-in nanny and personal housekeeper for a Navy officer’s family, the Bennetts. And she loved it.

“Part of why I love cleaning so much was my upbringing. It was the first job that I had, when I worked for the Bennett family when I was a young girl,” says Galera. “As a result of working for the Bennetts, it qualified me to get my first job in a hotel. From there, it led to so many good things that happened in my life!”

Over the past 35 years that Galera has been in the housekeeping industry, she has worked a multitude of positions in a variety of settings, making her a master of the industry. She is a veteran of hotel housekeeping and laundry management, and is currently the owner of her own contract cleaning business, Clean Plus Systems II, and is an enthusiastic management consultant and training specialist. She has serviced office buildings, residential homes, high schools, colleges, preschools, retirement homes, condominiums, military homes, retail stores, hotels, and churches.

On top of her hands-on experience, Galera has also been a dedicated I.E.H.A. member for the past 33 years and a Certified Executive Housekeeper (C.E.H.) for the past 32 years. She has held a plethora of officer positions within the organization and has only missed four Chapter meetings over all these years.

“I’m a self-motivator because I have a passion and a love for the job and for people,” says Galera. “One of the things that I really believe in and that really helps me in being motivated is to have a balanced life. A balanced life means giving time to my family, my job, my education, and my spiritual side. Having a balanced life helps to motivate me because it makes life interesting. There’s never a dull moment.”

With so much dedication and experience, Galera is the perfect candidate to offer her advice to the readers of EHT. But first, let’s learn a little more about her background within the industry and I.E.H.A.

Cleaning, Training, and Consulting
Currently, as the owner of her own contract cleaning business, Clean Plus Systems II, Galera is involved in a variety of projects; including the cleaning of a residential, executive-type home; servicing an office for a Foster Family Program; working with the Hawaii High Schools of Oahu’s Food Service Sanitation and Career and Technical Education Programs; training at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Hotel; and developing a training program and manual for Ty Realty, among other projects.

The residential home that Galera services once a week with her sister, she does as a special request from the president of an engineering company.

“I use her home as a testing ground for new products and equipment,” says Galera. “I’ve tested vacuums for residential cleaning and chemicals, especially Green cleaning chemicals, because this woman has allergy problems, so she is always looking for something that can be safe for her.”

Galera also services a small office for a Foster Family Program that she has been working with for the past 15 years. They opened the office, about 1,000 square feet, near where Galera lives, and they asked her to come and take care of the office. Just like at the residential home, she does product and equipment testing there as well.

“It’s such a small office that I am able to get it cleaned in an hour, and I do a lot of backpack vacuuming there,” says Galera. “I promote backpack vacuuming, microfiber technology, and team cleaning quite a bit to almost everybody that I work with.”

The products Galera tests in the residential home and the small office allow her to find ones that work well so she can use them at other properties for which she has contracts. However, a big part of her business is training and consulting with companies, like she does with the Hawaii High Schools and the Holiday Inn Waikiki.

“I have found my project with the Hawaii High Schools to be quite interesting because it’s all about cleaning, except it’s a different type of cleaning,” says Galera.

The particular group of schools that Galera is working with is not standardized in the purchasing of products for the food service programs they have for students in home economics classes. So, two district coordinators asked Galera to help put together a product list so they could work toward standardizing the schools’ cleaning supplies. Right now, teachers have to go to the store to purchase products when they run out, but after Galera puts this product list together with recommendations, they will be able to order their products and have them delivered to the schools. Some of the schools that Galera works with are also opening restaurants for the public to eat the food cooked by students taking home economics classes. Galera has been going to the schools and training the students on the basics of cleaning and sanitation so their restaurant will be a success.


Galera stands in front of the Holiday Inn Waikiki Hotel, where she consults with the hotel’s management and provides training for the housekeeping department.

Galera trains the students in a Hawaii high school home economics class on the basics of cleaning and sanitation in the kitchen.

Galera trains the students in a Hawaii high school home economics class on the basics of cleaning and sanitation in the kitchen.

Currently, Galera is working with the Holiday Inn Waikiki Hotel by providing training within their housekeeping department and helping them with problems they run into within their housekeeping operations. She has also been sitting in on their union negotiation meetings and consulting with the hotel’s management.

In addition, Galera has also been working on another project with a vacation rental program. The company, Ty Realty, owns about 150 condos and is trying to put a housekeeping operation together. Galera has been helping them find a housekeeping manager and has been assisting with putting together a training program for them, as well as a housekeeping manual.

“Executive housekeepers need to learn about all sides of the profession — the technical side, the management side, and the administrative side. When I do seminars and workshops, I try to get across to the people the importance of learning the science and art of cleaning. It is an important profession — it’s one of the big ten businesses of the world,” says Galera. “I also pass the same information on to the students that I’m working with or training. I believe in the profession. I always said, when I worked as an executive housekeeper and corporate executive housekeeper, that if I ever lost my job, I would never be without one because I could always turn to the profession and open my own business. I’ve seen executive housekeepers become human resources directors and general managers — those who really have that passion. I’ve been accused of living, breathing, eating, and sleeping the profession. I believe that if you keep your environment clean, you will keep your health in good shape.”

I.E.H.A. Involvement
Along with her passion for cleaning, Galera also has a strong passion for I.E.H.A. Galera feels that her membership with I.E.H.A. has benefited her because she has always been an active member in the organization. She tries to help other members when they need help; she continuously advises recruitment and looks for new members; she promotes the Association every chance she can; and she gets involved with all activities that come up.

Galera served as the Hawaii Chapter President from 1991 to 1993 and again, from 1999 to 2001. She has also served as a Board member or as one of the Committee Chairs for the Chapter every year since 1976. She was the Pacific Southwest District Director from 2003 to 2007; Assistant District Director from 2001 to 2003; the coordinator for PSWD Conventions in 1979, 1991, and 2003; and has been the PSWD newsletter coordinator since 2001. She also served the district as second Vice Governor from 1978 to 1979 and first Vice Governor from 1979 to 1980. In addition, at the national and international levels, she served as the I.E.H.A. Fund Development Chair from 2003 to 2004, I.E.H.A. Bylaws Committee Member from 2002 to 2003, was a National Board of Director from 1980 to 1988, was N.E.H.A.’s second Vice President from 1982 to 1984, N.E.H.A.’s first Vice President from 1984 to 1986, was a delegate to association Conventions from 1976 to 2006, and has also been a committee member of Executive Housekeeping Today’s Technical Advisory Committee.

“I’ve been a member of I.E.H.A. for 33 years and I’ve been certified for 32 years. I train in the certification program and work with colleges in Hawaii,” says Galera. “One thing that I will always be proud of as a member of the Association is that I have attended every Chapter meeting over all of these years, except maybe three or four, and I couldn’t attend because I was attending Board meetings. I make it a point to attend all meetings. When I used to apply for different jobs and they would interview me, one of the things that I always told them was that I am a member of I.E.H.A. and I would have to attend the meetings. I’ve always had support.”

When Galera first joined the Association in 1974, she was a housekeeping supervisor, but as a result of being a member, not only did she gain knowledge about the profession and leadership, but it was a result of I.E.H.A. that she was able to get her first job in Waikiki with the opening of a 416-room military hotel. The certification program has been very instrumental in her getting the proposals that she does today with her contract cleaning business. I.E.H.A. provides that certain qualification for Galera that allows her to do the work she does.

“I.E.H.A. is very special to me,” says Galera. “Besides the profession, people have also accused me of living, breathing, eating, and sleeping I.E.H.A. I’ve been blessed by being a member of the Association. Membership is important because besides the education, learning, being involved, training, and leadership experiences it has provided me, it has allowed me to make lifelong friends. I will always appreciate the friendship and fellowship. I’ve always said that if it were not for I.E.H.A., I would not be where I am today. I give much thanks to I.E.H.A.”

Due to her dedication to I.E.H.A., Galera was presented with the first ever Margaret Barnes Diamond Award in 1990; an award that is intended to honor and recognize an individual who has made outstanding contributions continually over an extended period of time in regards to housekeeping, the Association, and its advancement; has rendered meritorious service to all areas of I.E.H.A.; and has written articles showing unusual insight and importance to the housekeeping industry.

Expert Advice
Now that we know a little bit more about Galera’s background, let’s take a moment to get some expert advice from a master of the cleaning industry.

“My one key message to all members is to have passion in what you do and to do it all with full commitment. In short, love what you do and do it with love, for self, for your profession and for I.E.H.A. Doing so will result in big-time personal and professional satisfaction and successes. My advice to the readers of EHT is to invest in themselves. When it comes to the Association, don’t wait for the company to pay your membership dues; you should look at it as an investment in yourself. Another thing I advise, especially to supervisors, is to build themselves an information and resource library. I have a huge library — I think I have the largest library in Hawaii of all housekeepers! I have books on management, leadership, self-development, and cleaning. I always look for books that have good affirmations because when I do writings, or when I do training, I will find something appropriate and include it in the training workbooks that I do. My other advice is to keep learning — it’s never-ending when it comes to the learning process,” says Galera.

She feels that in order to be a top-notch executive housekeeper, you must possess the “triad” of professional housekeeping, meaning that you must have strong administrative skills, management skills, and technical knowledge and skills. She tries to motivate and help others within the industry by offering advice when they need it. She believes that you need to have the passion for the industry, the Association, and in helping others in order to be truly successful. She also believes that a lot of the knowledge that is gained within the housekeeping industry can be passed on to everyone in life, not just to others within the field.

Cleaning at home and being organized has always been important to Galera and she owes it to those days when she was young. Galera feels that she came from humble beginnings — her mother was very strict with her twelve children and they each had a chore to do in order to keep things organized. Because she came from such a large family, she had to learn to be independent at a very young age. Galera also says that she owes a lot to Mrs. Bennett — the mother of the family she provided housekeeping and nanny services for from the time she was 12 to when she was 17. Galera says that Mrs. Bennett, as well as I.E.H.A., has made her what she is today.

“I’ve come to love this profession and realize that the profession is not only a cleaning profession. Right now I’m a consultant trainer, but I’ve had offers to come back and be an executive housekeeper. I could apply for an operations job or I could go into accounting because I know how to do budgets. The profession, and having all this experience and training, has so much to offer. I don’t think that anybody who loses a job within the field will ever be without a job. There’s always something to go to. As long as you keep the faith and keep the passion, there is always something for you out there. Cleaning will make anybody successful. You just have to believe that cleaning is a science and an art.”

In closing, Galera would like to express a warm “Aloha and Mahalo” to those who were her mentors and longtime friends in I.E.H.A. — including Elizabeth Harper, Oneita Dease, and Beth Risinger, along with the Hawaii Chapter.

“I have been blessed and mentored by the best over the years,” says Galera. “Mrs. Bennett was my first mentor and along with my mentors of I.E.H.A., I have thus been a mentor to others as well.”