Tracy Elliott, mortgage banker
The Van Briesen family
You’ll know when it’s the right time and place.
In her first year at Bell, that’s what Tracy Elliott’s co-workers told her of Bell’s Pay It Forward program. So the Arizona-based mortgage banker kept her eyes peeled for a cause that could not only use the donation, but pulled at her heart strings in the most unexpected way.
When Tracy heard of the Van Briesen family’s tragedy, Tracy knew she’d found her cause.
“A good friend of mine, Corrie, is best friends with the Van Briesen family. Their kids grew up together,” Tracy explains. “I’d probably met Lindsey at events here and there, but we weren’t close; we didn’t really know each other.”
Lindsey, an EMT instructor, and her husband, Nathan, a firefighter, were both associated with the fire departments in their community.
“(Nathan) did lose his life at the end of April this year,” Tracy explains. “They have two children – 7 and 10 years old – so it was really a hard event for the family.”
Having just worked with a couple firefighter clients, Tracy felt hearing the story was a bit of fate. “I knew this was the place to send my money,” she says.
Conveniently, Corrie had invited the Van Briesens over to her home – and Tracy would be making a surprise visit.
“You’re actually the reason I’m here,” Tracy told Lindsey. “My company has a program called Pay It Forward … so this is for you.”
With 9 Bell employees contributing to the cause, Tracy handed Lindsey a check for $10,000.
“Lindsey had no clue what was happening, so she got very emotional when she opened the check and realized what it was,” Tracy recalls. “It was just such an amazing experience.”
While $10,000 is a significant contribution, paying it forward is about more than financial security. It gives people hope.
“For me, personally, the money was just a piece of it. It did help them financially but, in all honesty, I think (Lindsey) was more touched by the gesture. To have our company – who reaches out and touches people on a personal level – is just so amazing.”
While each day brings its struggles, the Van Briesen family is appreciative of any words or actions that can reignite their joy.
“They’re concentrating on every day’s blessings and moving forward one day at a time,” Tracy says.
Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.