Crestwood woman literally has it in her makeup to give back
BY JAIME ANGIO Correspondent April 25, 2012 1:58PM
Gwen Ulmer (left), a National Hook-Up of Black Women member and community relations coordinator for Silver Cross Hospital, accepts children’s books from Valerie Baudo for the National Hook-Up of Black Women & Silver Cross Hospital reading rooms. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:01AM
Valerie Baudo counts her blessings every day. And when it comes to charitable causes, she prefers to be on the giving side.
“Who says you can’t give back?” said Baudo, 32, of Crestwood. “I feel that as you get older, you start to appreciate more what you have, so that’s when I started to look back and say, ‘Hey, I’m pretty lucky.’ I’ve got a steady job and I have a great life.”
So a couple of years ago, Baudo started selling Mary Kay products, holding bake sales and selling stuff at garage sales to create a fund she uses solely for charitable donations.
“I was working steady, and I was like, ‘You know what? I just want to give back,’ ” she said. “So that’s when I came up with this idea. So every month what I’ll do is look at websites and look at different things to see which charity needs something.”
Baudo, a station supply tech for Silver Cross Hospital Stores & Distribution, recently delivered 50 children’s books to the National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc., and Silver Cross Reading Room nonprofit.
Baudo had perused the hospital’s website and came across the organization and liked what she read. The Silver Cross Reading Room’s purpose is to fight illiteracy and help children avoid poverty by increasing their education level.
“I feel that kids should be reading instead of getting toys,” she said. “I feel that a book is a great thing.”
Baudo contacted Gwen Ulmer, a National Hook-Up of Black Women member and community relations coordinator for Silver Cross Hospital, and asked her what kind of books the program needed.
“She explained to me about the program and she said, ‘They spread them out to people all over the community,’ ” Baudo said. “I said, ‘What ages are you looking for?’ And she said, ‘Preschool to second grade,’ so I kept that in my head. So after I had the money, I went and bought books.”
Baudo sold cosmetics and used that money to purchase children’s books. When Baudo delivered them, she said she was a little overwhelmed by the reaction since she is now somewhat of a “celebrity.”
“They were very excited when they got the books,” she said. “When I dropped off the books, they were like, ‘Wait, come back! We want to take a picture.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s not necessary.’ And the next thing I know it’s on Silver Cross’s Facebook page.”
Baudo, a 1997 graduate of Shepard High School in Palos Heights, is going to continue selling Mary Kay products, holding bake sales and working garage sales. But she eventually would like to see her “fund” evolve.
“I would like to start a foundation,” she said. “I’m going to name it the ‘Strong Foundation,’ because the name ‘Valerie’ means ‘strong.’
“I feel that if life has been good to you — and it’s been good to me — why shouldn’t you give back? There are so many people right now that don’t have jobs, they don’t have anything, they don’t count their blessings. And I feel that I was given everything that I need, so why not give back?”