Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

How Bell Employees Decide Where to Pay It Forward

From buying beds for kids who had been sleeping on the floor, to helping families who lost their homes in fires, to paying for veterinary services for a sick dog and her puppies … Bell Bank’s employees have addressed many needs with their Pay It Forward funds over the last 10 years.

“This is a gift, and I want to be a good steward of it.” – Barb Larson

There are so many organizations and people who need help, it can be difficult deciding where to donate the dollars. Some employees have organizations they like to support. Others like to wait and see what comes up. And some have unique ways of choosing where to donate their funds.

Here are a few of their stories:

Motivated by Past Experience

Ambassadors for Lend a Hand UpAfter working in the medical field for 30 years, some of that time at Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, Durinda DeTar, Bell Bank Wealth Management project coordinator, knew how financially devastating medical issues could be. So when Bell announced the Pay It Forward program, she knew her donation would be medically related.

In her research, she found Lend A Hand, a nonprofit Dakota Medical Foundation launched in 2008 to help people experiencing a medical crisis. Now called Lend A Hand Up, the organization supports volunteer efforts to raise funds for those individuals and families, and it provides matching funds up to $5,000. Every penny raised goes directly to the individual or family because Dakota Medical Foundation underwrites the administrative costs.

“Over the last 10 years, more than $14.5 million has been raised and more than 465 Cass and Clay families have been uplifted,” Durinda remarks. “When I see a benefit poster, I know that I am helping that person or family in a small way. I will continue to give Lend A Hand Up my Pay it Forward dollars this year and in the years to come.”

Durinda is also now part of a Lend A Hand Up ambassador group that attends as many benefits as possible throughout the year.

Guided by Prayer

Each year before deciding where to donate her funds, Barb Larson, an administrative assistant in our Fargo offices, prays about it and then waits.

“This is a gift, and I want to be a good steward of it,” she notes.

Two of her most memorable donations were to people she knows. One was to a friend without health insurance who suffered a heart attack. The other was to a friend whose husband was hospitalized for months, and they had to sell their business.

Influenced by Loved Ones

As soon as she had the opportunity to pay it forward, Debbie Henke, a human resources administrative assistant in our Fargo offices, wanted to donate to a Christian organization that helps people who suffer from mental illness.

“Some people very close to my heart have suffered greatly from mental illness,” she says. “My heart hurts for the many souls who suffer from this terrible disease, which so many people have a hard time understanding.”

She chose Valley Christian Counseling, which provides Christian-based counseling services for a variety of issues including mental illness, eating disorders, family conflict and stress.

“This organization is a light for so many who only see darkness,” Debbie comments. “With this light, there is more hope for many people. With the Pay It Forward program, Bell Bank brought a light to someone who only saw darkness.”

Inspired by a Story

Greg Moan with Brandon Sloan of Sloan AthleticsMary Jo Watts, a teller in our West Fargo branch, says her most memorable Pay It Forward donation was inspired by a story her son, Adam, wrote for The Forum newspaper. It featured a football player with a difficult upbringing who started a personal training company in Grand Forks, N.D., that focuses on student athletes, troubled youth and people with disabilities.

In the story, Brandon Sloan, who grew up on the streets of California and in foster care, said he wanted to be the positive role model for others he never had for himself.

After now-retired building and grounds manager Greg Moan reached out to Brandon to find out how he could help, Greg, Mary Jo and a few other Bell employees pooled their Pay It Forward funds to give Brandon equipment and a storage trailer for his business, Sloan Athletics.

“It felt great to help someone who wanted to help so many others,” Mary Jo remarks. “To see the joy and ambition of this young man when he received the gifts was amazing. He truly lived a pay-it-forward life after having a very rough start himself.”

Learn more about how Bell’s Pay It Forward program began.

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