Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Service Dog Helps Veteran Through Physical and Emotional Pain

When U.S. Army veteran Reid Erickson first met Melton, it was love at first sight, with the service dog immediately rolling over into Reid’s lap. Ever since, Melton has helped Reid cope with the physical – and emotional – pain he’s endured since retiring from the military.

“Anything we can do to help veterans of our country is something that we need to do more of.” – Mitch Jindra, mortgage banker

Bell Employee

Mitch Jindra, mortgage banker




Golden PAWS Assistance Dogs

Naples, Fla.


The Need

Inspired by a co-worker who volunteers for Golden PAWS Assistance Dogs, 8 Bell employees pooled their Pay It Forward funds to make an even bigger impact. Together, they raised $18,500 for Golden PAWS – a nonprofit organization that provides highly skilled assistance dogs to combat wounded veterans and children with life-changing disabilities.

The organization trains specially bred golden retrievers for 2 years before placing the dogs at no cost to those they serve. Most dogs are placed with veterans, but dogs that do not achieve the required level of physical and emotional stamina are paired with children or others with qualifying disabilities. Dogs are trained for tasks such as opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, and helping with balance and mobility.

“It was great to know our dollars were going to something tangible that we could see the results of right away,” Mitch comments.


The Impact

U.S. Army veteran Reid Erickson, one of the recipients of a Golden PAWS dog, stopped by the bank to share his story and introduce his dog, Melton.

Reid joined the military in 2006 and served 9 years – including a tour in Afghanistan. After retiring, his symptoms related to a traumatic brain injury became more severe, and his back injuries grew increasingly worse. He spent about a year and a half looking into service dog organizations, before Golden PAWS selected him to receive a dog.

When he met his dog, he says, “It was love at first sight.”

“I always tell people he’s not my dog, I’m his human, because he picked me,” Reid remarks. “I love this dog more than life itself – just like a kid. He’s one of my children. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Being in that hole takes whatever health issues you have and complicates them even more due to the stress. He senses it, and he’ll take care of me, regardless of whatever the situation is.”

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.


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