Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward Helps Children Newly Adopted from Ukraine

Sarah Reif, the dean of students at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria, asked Bell if the bank could help buy iPads for four children the Bowden family of Alexandria recently adopted. They spoke little English, and Sarah was concerned that during the summer they would not have access to educational apps that could help them learn the language and acclimate to the culture.

When Linda read the email from Sarah, she knew she wanted to help.

“I knew what I had to do,” she said. “I gave the dean $1,700 of my Pay It Forward funds so she could purchase four iPads for these children.”

It was enough money to buy the iPads, a cover for each iPad and two $50 gift cards for the two older kids’ student mentors.

“They were so happy,” Linda said. “They promised to come into the bank before the start of the school year to let me know how much progress they made over the summer. They spent over a half hour touring the bank and showing us things on their iPads. What a gift to be able to do this for this family!”

Paul and Lisa Bowden hosted four Ukrainian orphans for a month during the summer of 2015 through Force for Christ ministry, an organization that finds families to host children from orphanages to give them a chance to experience a loving home. After the kids had to return to their home country, the Bowdens talked over the possibility of adoption with their four biological kids, and the family decided to adopt the children they had hosted.

Lisa spent August through December of last year working on the international adoption process. She said it took a lot of time and money to adopt all four children, but the community rallied around them.

“We had tremendous support from the local community and a few adoption grant agencies to help lighten the burden,” she said. “We left for Ukraine, with only one-week notice, on Jan. 30. After three trips to Ukraine for Paul, and 11 weeks in Ukraine for me, we arrived back with four more children on April 15. It was an amazing and life-changing experience. Our family now has eight children, ranging in age from 8-22.”