Kathy Beck, lead clinical lab scientist in the histocompatibility laboratory at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), smiles when she talks about the Grow Together employee giving program.

“It’s just so easy,” she exclaims, citing convenience as her favorite aspect of the program. “I signed up several years ago and I’m glad it’s going to help the Vision 2020 campaign. In fact, I recently went online at People Portal and doubled the amount of my contribution.”

Despite the fact that the Grow Together program has been in existence only since 2011, Kathy wears a silver pin on her employee badge identifying her as someone who has contributed on a monthly basis for at least 10 years.

Darin West, Grow Together director, says Kathy received the pin because she started donating to Loma Linda University Medical Center via a payroll deduction in 2005.

“When the Grow Together program began, we grandfathered everybody in who was already giving through other programs,” West observes, “so they would all get credit for their contribution to the Vision 2020 campaign.”

Beck says the payroll deduction plan makes a lot of sense. “It comes out of your paycheck so no one notices that it’s missing,” she points out. “But at the end of the year, you can see you donated quite a lot.”

Her reason for giving back to her employer is simple.

“They do so much for us as employees,” Beck notes, “that for us to be able to help out with the new building project is the least we can do. Loma Linda has been a very good employer for me; they’ve always been so generous. For me to be able to give back a little is worth a lot to me.”

In her job at the laboratory, Beck monitors the conditions of patients who are on a waiting list for transplantation. She notes that April is National Donate Life Month and adds that there are more than 120,000 people nationwide waiting for organ transplants.

“In 2015, the Transplant Institute did 156 organ transplants,” she reports. “As of today, there have been 46 transplants in 2016.”

Beck notes that the histocompatibility lab is part of the clinical lab department at LLUMC, and that she and her colleagues perform human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tests for the Transplantation Institute. The process involves not only screening each patient’s blood for antibodies before transplantation to ensure compatibility between donors and recipients as well as monitoring patients after transplantation.

“We do our HLA typing by DNA molecular method,” she explains, “and for stem cell transplants, we type by DNA sequencing. In the flow cytometry lab, which is located within the histocompatibility lab, we perform leukemia/lymphoma profiles for diagnosis and follow-up treatment.”

Needless to say, the work requires painstaking attention to a variety of details, each of which is vitally important to the health and safety of patients. So by the time she gets home from work, Beck relaxes her mind and indulges her creativity by crocheting. On weekends, she blows off steam with some serious hiking.

“I do a lot of hiking,” she says. “We—my husband Kelly and I—live in Orange County, in Anaheim Hills, so we hike a lot at Chino Hills State Park. There’s a group of us who get together for trail runs all over Orange County. It’s like hiking and running all at once. We go out on Saturday mornings.”

The Beck’s moved from Yorba Linda to Anaheim Hills last October. Their sons, Kevin, who just graduated from UCLA, and Ryan, a second-year student at UC San Diego, no longer live with them, so the couple downsized to a townhome. She appreciates the fact that there’s no mandatory yard work, but still enjoys working with her flowers and gardening. “I also enjoy feeding the hummingbirds in the neighborhood,” she adds.

Besides running, hiking, and crocheting, Beck also enjoys square dancing with the Buttons and Bows dance club in Yorba Linda. “This is my second year and it is a great exercise for the mind to remember all the different dance formations, and enjoy some very nice people’s company.”

She looks forward to an upcoming trip to Utah and Arizona. “We will be hiking Angel’s Landing in Zion and heading out to Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Sedona, and—of course—Grand Canyon.”

The smile returns to Beck’s face as she reports the results of two recent trail runs.

“I took first place in my age division in the last two races,” she grins. “I have been running for over 20 years, but I fell and broke my elbow in November 2015, had surgery to insert a screw on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and did a trail race the following Saturday.

“I didn’t win my age group that race,” she concludes.