Pay it Forward

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

Once a month, Ann Varallo and her colleagues, Jodi Beswick, Angela Scott, Laura Soper and Hazel Wilson, can be found up to their elbows in cookie dough. It's just par for the course, as the teammates prepare delicious baked goods for families living at Ronald McDonald House.

Volunteering in the community is a tradition for the team, who previously spent seven years engaged with the Salvation Army. Annually, they would sponsor a family during the holiday season providing gifts, clothes, gift cards for groceries and whatever the chosen family needed. They were also involved in helping out with a lunch program.

The decision, however, to become involved with Ronald McDonald House was an obvious one for the team. 

“We thought it was a worthy cause,” said Varallo. “We all have kids and grandkids, so it’s something special to us. We also love to bake, so it was a good fit.”

For Varallo, whose young daughter received extensive care at Children’s Hospital, volunteering in the community is her way to pay it forward.

 “You have to give back,” she said. Life can throw you all kinds of challenges. But, once you are able to – it’s important to pay it forward.”

A cohesive team in the lab, the group approaches their volunteer work with the same energy, enthusiasm and organization as they do their day-to-day routines.

“It’s a real team building opportunity and group unifying session,” said Varallo. “We feel good about what we’re doing and even better that we can experience it together.”

 The rewards of the work for Varallo and the team far outweigh any of the demands on their time.  

“There are no words to describe it,” Varallo said. “The interaction with the people at Ronald McDonald House, and the conversations we have with them is really wonderful. They are so grateful for what we are doing. It feels really good to see and know that what we’re doing helps in some way in their journey.”

Learn more about Ronald McDonald House and The Salvation Army and how you can get involved.