Sounders Family: Supporter Anita 'Mama' Tarlao stepped up when her coworker got sick

Anita Tarlao

As the world rallies together to stop the spread of COVID-19, Sounders FC is highlighting members of the community who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact. These folks are fighting on the frontlines, putting in heroic efforts to ensure that we can all come through this crisis stronger together.

Anita Tarlao has been the Time and Attendance Clerk at the Fred Meyer in Redondo, Wash., for over 35 years.

Affectionally referred to as ‘Mama’ by all of the employees, Tarlao constantly goes the extra mile to support her colleagues. In addition to making sure that all employees are paid correctly, she helps oversee the store’s safety requirements and is a key member of the culture council.

When an employee is having a bad day at work and needs to vent, they go to Tarlao. If someone is struggling with something in their personal life, they go to Tarlao. When a birthday or work anniversary is coming up, the person who plans it is, you guessed it, Tarlao.

“She is the rock of Redondo,” said Chuck Pepper, a member of store leadership who nominated Anita. “I have never met somebody that has more passion and acted like coworkers are her family.”

Pepper’s and Tarlao’s offices are located right next to the employee exit. About 100 times a day, he hears associates say ‘bye, Mama!’ as they clock out.

‘Mama’ isn’t just an affectionate nickname for a coworker. Everyone associated with the Redondo Fred Meyer truly views her as a maternal figure, someone they can always go to when they need help.

For the past month, Tarlao has been taking care of one of her coworker’s daughters after their mom was hospitalized in the middle of the night.

“Their mom couldn’t move, couldn’t walk and could barely even talk,” said Pepper. “The 18 year old knew Anita from work – the mom and Anita have worked together for a very long time. She couldn’t think of anybody else in the middle of the night to call.

“It ended up taking Anita an hour and twenty minutes to get her from the apartment into the car. She did it all by herself.”

Since that night, the girls have been staying with Tarlao on and off. She checks on them every day, supplying them with groceries, helping them with chores around the apartment and making sure they’re doing their homework. Pepper only found out about it because Tarlao brought it to his attention out of concern for her coworker.

“She’s been doing this all by herself,” added Pepper. “And she would do this for any associate.”

When the girls’ mom was released after a couple of weeks in the hospital, Tarlao sent an e-mail to store leadership asking for help in putting together a care package for their family. Spurred by Tarlao’s altruism, everyone pitched in to buy board games, movies, makeup and a gift card to a pizza shop so they could have a fun night together.

“She wanted to do something so the daughters could feel a little bit more alive, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pepper. “People are bringing in cool stuff or buying them cool stuff. It’s really awesome to see.”

Ever since Pepper joined the Redondo Fred Meyer, he’s been amazed at the tight-knit community that Tarlao has helped instill. She’s the kind of person who makes the people around her better.

“It’s humbling,” he said. “It’s made me a more understanding person.”



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