Alumna baking up batches of kindness

Paul Mayne//Western NewsDeb Parr-Nash and Joanne Lombardi, BA’81, BEd’84, are working hard in making the world a nicer place – one cookie at a time – with the creation of Kindness Cookies.

Joanne Lombardi and Deb Parr-Nash are making the world a nicer place – one cookie at a time.

The former London educators have since left the classroom, donned aprons, and now spend their days transforming attitudes and encouraging small acts of kind-heartedness with their cookies.

“While London is known as the Forest City, we’d like to make it the Kindness City,” smiled Lombardi, BA’81, BEd’84, who launched Kindness Cookies with her long-time friend just under a year ago.

“A simple cookie won’t take away all woes and worries. But for a moment, we believe there is joy that someone thought of them – and that’s a great feeling. That’s so powerful. We know we’re making a difference.”

The pair spent years baking cookies to share with family and friends. Parr-Nash is widely known among friends and family for her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which she used as a way to say, ‘I’m thinking of you.’

“When I dropped off some cookies at a friend’s house who was struggling, she said it was like cookie therapy for her – it was just what she needed,” Parr-Nash said. “I said to Joanne, ‘If it just takes cookies to make somebody’s day, to make them feel better for just that moment, we can do that. We can make someone’s day – and if we can turn things around for them, even better.”

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The two know what it’s like to feel the kindness of others. Both were young widows with young children and fondly remember the kindness of many who wanted to let them know they cared.

“We reflected on all those moments of kindness we received, all the people who have been so kind to us over the years and how it made us feel. We thought, ‘How can we make it work for others?’” said Parr-Nash, whose business is based out of Friendly Fare, an east London communal kitchen.

Grab a dozen Champion Chocolate Chip, Generous Ginger or Prize-Winning Peanut Butter cookies. Inside each box, you’ll find a surprise – a specially wrapped individual cookie, the Kindness Cookie, included for customers to write a note on and pay forward.

Always educators, the pair donate a portion of the proceeds from each box sold to the local Children’s Nutrition Network in support of healthy snack, breakfast and meal programs.

“We’re passionate about children. We know the importance of the programs, so we are happy to be able make a difference in this way,” said Parr-Nash, adding Kindness Cookies have also run campaigns to thank London’s first responders and nursing home staff.

“We covered the entire city one day. All the deliveries came with notes from families who wanted to says thanks for what they do in the community. They were thrilled with the surprise, as were we do be able to do this.”

Oftentimes, Lombardi said the deliveries are just as exciting as the baking.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the ins and outs of running a kitchen. When you have a delivery, and they wonder how they got one of our cookies, then they find out it was from a neighbour sharing, we love to hear that,” she said. “That’s exciting. We love these stories and it’s what keeps us going.”

Parr-Nash agreed. “You get excited because other people get excited. That’s the drug that keeps us motivated – all the stories. It’s always a good day when you’re baking cookies. You find yourself talking to the cookies. When they say cookies are baked with love, it’s true.”

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Western Alumni has partnered with Kindness Cookies, a London-based local business dedicated to creating small acts of kindness through the purchase of cookies. Western alumni will receive special discounted pricing when placing an order. Kindness Cookies will donate a percentage of sales to Western’s Wellness Education Centre. Visit the Alumni Western page for details.