April 05, 2011
Ben's bell found at Adult Day Health Care.
Anne Paulus, the director of Adult Day Health Care at John C. Lincoln, started her day on March 29 by reading a story about Ben's Bells in The Arizona Republic.
The bells are named in memory of a happy 2-year-old boy from Tucson. On the playground, he simply said he was tired, and while his mother held him, he died. His family was more than shaken by the unexpected tragedy. His mother wanted to die, too.
But, every day, strangers and friends helped them in unexpected ways. Those small acts of kindness and compassion made the difference between devastation and strength.
Then, the Maré family wanted to spread the message to others and began Ben's Bells. The bells are attached to colorful pottery, and the tag invites you to take one and be kind to others. Twice a year, the bells are put out in Tucson, but the bells also have been placed at the scene of tragedies around the country, including the Safeway parking lot after the shootings in January, a tangible reminder of hope in inexplicable loss.
Last week, on March 29, employees, readers of AZ magazine and The Arizona Republic and employees of Channel 12 brought the bell project to Phoenix. On the day Ben would have been 11 years old, 250 bells were distributed throughout the Valley.
And Anne, beginning with her drive to work, started to look for a bell. She continued looking as she walked from Adult Day and across the hospital campus to a meeting. She kept an eye outside her office window, as she waited for a daughter bringing her father to Adult Day for the first time.
"I wanted to be part of the story. They say you can't find one; it has to find you," she said. "And I didn't find it. It found us."
The bell appeared on a bush, just outside that office window.
"I can't believe I didn't see it," she said. "One minute, I was watching, and the next thing I know, another staff member said 'What's this bell hanging on the bush?'"
The tag reads: "You have found a Ben's Bell. Take it home, hang it in your yard and remember to spread kindness throughout our world. Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."
The staff at Adult Day did not take the bell home. The bell hangs in a place of importance in the entry way. The bell will remind staff and families of their valuable charge in life: To care for elderly loved ones who no longer can care for themselves.
Each bell is different. The Adult Day bell has 11 dots. Adult Day has 11 staff members.
"This is just our bell," Anne said. "I feel so honored. We spend our day trying to bring kindness and support to our elder participants and their families. You don't know what other people are going through. The big stuff doesn't matter. It's all the little things that matter."
For more information about Ben's Bells and how the bells are made, visit bensbells.org.
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