Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Look For the Helpers

Bell Employees Find Ways to Spread Hope in Uncertain Times

Mr. Rogers is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

In times of tragedy, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to get caught in the chaos of fear running rampant. People tend to be creatures of habit, and a crisis not only disrupts our habits, but it also upends our way of life.

During times like these, it’s important to look for the helpers – and to find ways to be a helper for someone else. Serving others gives us a reprieve from our own fear, a bit of control over our circumstances and a sense of calm amid the storm.  

It can also inspire others – shining a light of hope in an otherwise dark time.

Aubri Selness, one of our Fargo bank tellers, shared the difference something like cloth bags donated to local schools made.

“My cousin said there were parents in tears simply because Bell donated bags to the schools for students to bring their stuff home in,” Aubri comments. “Some schools only had trash bags for their students. My cousin said, ‘Even having something as simple as a bag made it feel like we were getting a gift versus getting kicked out of school.’ With so many things being stripped away from so many people right now, even the small things are making a big difference and making people feel like they are cared for and loved!”

Many of our employees are trying to support restaurants and businesses that are exploring unique ways to offer their services. And in Hawley, Minn., branch president Rick Schultz is using his Pay It Forward funds to match money spent at local businesses.

While taking extra precautions to follow social distancing recommendations, our executive leadership team found a way to deliver food through the Legacy Children’s Foundation to families in need. Many also brought their kids to help with the deliveries.

“With my kids no longer able to be in school, I could sit home with them and do online classes, or I could take them with me to help deliver groceries while social distancing,” explains Julie Peterson Klein, Bell’s executive vice president and chief culture officer. “There’s no better lesson than taking them out and showing them what it means to have a Pay It Forward heart. You can’t get that lesson in a text book.”

In communicating with employees throughout social distancing recommendations, Michael Solberg, Bell’s president and CEO, reminded our team to, “Wash your hands, and wash other people’s feet!” – a message that reinforces the importance of servant leadership in how Bell operates.

“We’ve been through difficult times together, and they have always made us stronger,” Michael remarks. “We will get through this together – by looking out for each other and helping where we can. We all have the power to make a difference in someone’s life. And honestly, making a difference in people’s lives is the most important thing that we’re here to do."