Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Donation Helps Provide Shoes Around the World

After Bell employee Becky Walen learned from a client about an organization that helps provide shoes for people, she decided to use her Pay It Forward funds to help.

“To be part of bringing this joy and smiles to these children and getting the chance to hold their feet and ask them their names, their dreams, and getting the chance to connect with them on a whole different level, it changes you.” – Manny Ohonme, Samaritan’s Feet president and CEO

Bell Employees

Becky Walen
SVP/Market Development Director
Fargo, N.D.

Carson Miller
VP/Wealth and Fiduciary Advisor
Fargo, N.D.

Recipient

Samaritan’s Feet
Charlotte, N.C.

The Need

When Manny and Tracie Ohonme found out more than 300 million children in Africa go without shoes and more than 1.5 billion people worldwide were infected with diseases that could be cured by having shoes, they decided to do something about it.

“We said, ‘Somebody ought to do something about that,’” notes Manny Ohonme, Samaritan’s Feet president and CEO. “We didn’t know that somebody was going to be us.”

Manny and Tracie launched Samaritan’s Feet in 2003 with a vision of putting shoes in the feet of 10 million children around the world. Since then, the organization and its partners have distributed more than 8.5 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and over 450 U.S. cities.

“To be part of bringing this joy and smiles to these children and getting the chance to hold their feet and ask them their names, their dreams, and getting the chance to connect with them on a whole different level, it changes you,” Manny remarks.

Samaritan’s Feet also provides shoes for senior citizens and veterans.

“It's amazing being an advocate and a voice for people to be able to help change their world,” Manny comments.

The Impact

Becky Walen, SVP and market development director on Bell Bank’s wealth management team in Fargo, learned about Samaritan’s Feet from Luis and Greta Garcia, financial planning clients whose goals include philanthropy.

“What really drew me in is the foundational purpose that shoes serve in our lives, whether it’s basic healthcare, or really the comfort, confidence and dignity,” Becky explains.

She decided to donate her Pay It Forward funds to the organization, and see if any of her co-workers wanted to join in the effort. Together, they raised $5,100 for Samaritan’s Feet.

“To know we get to come to work every day and look out for others and really to just bring these hearts full of care into the communities that we serve, it's humbling and amazing,” Becky comments.

Carson Miller a VP/wealth and fiduciary advisor for Bell in Fargo says it was an honor to be able to donate to the organization.

“If you can imagine even one day without wearing shoes how uncomfortable that could be, put yourself in the feet of a little child, all the way across the world in an underdeveloped country, to be able to put shoes on a child like that, and literally start from the ground up to improve their lives immediately is touching,” Carson notes.

“When we are blessed with abundance, I think it's time for us to build bigger tables not build bigger fences, and you guys are helping to build bigger tables,” Manny remarks. “That’s pretty commendable.”

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