The Big Surprise
At the company Christmas party in December 2007, Bell employees received a big surprise.
Joined on stage by an Oprah Winfrey impersonator, Michael Solberg announced an effort modeled after the talk show host’s “pay it forward” project. Michael shared that every full-time employee would receive $1,000 and every part-time employee $500 to give to an individual, family or organization in need.
Throughout 2008, employees gave individually, pooled their funds and partnered with other donors outside the bank. Eventually, the half-million-dollar employee commitment, along with additional gifts from employees, customers, other businesses and foundations, totaled more than $600,000 in the first year.
In 2008, with Pay It Forward novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde as a special Christmas party guest, the bank announced that the program would continue for years to come.