FOUND A BELL? TELL US ABOUT IT!
In 2002, Jeannette Maré’s life changed forever when her son, Ben, died suddenly just before his third birthday. In the months following his death, Jeannette and her friends and family began making ceramic wind chimes – the first Ben’s Bells – in her backyard studio. Being surrounded by supportive people and working with clay toward a common goal was therapeutic for her family and their healing.
During this time, Jeannette learned how a small act of kindness could make such a difference in a person’s life, no matter their background. She wanted to find a way to teach others about the impact of intentional acts of kindness, and so the idea for the Bell came to life. Jeannette and her friends made four hundred Bells and randomly distributed them in the Tucson community on the first anniversary of Ben’s death. Through these Bells, she had found a way to pay forward the kindnesses that had been shown to her.
This started a powerful ripple effect. People who found the Bells shared their own stories of grief and healing and hope. The local newspaper printed the story on the front page. School groups and businesses and individuals started calling to see how they could get involved and soon, thousands of Tucsonans were helping to craft Ben’s Bells.
Since 2003, Ben’s Bells has been operating as a nonprofit, growing kindness education programs and continuing to distribute thousands of Bells every year. Today Bells are found all over the world and our free kindness education programming has reached over 1.6 million students.
Bell making began in Jeannette and Dean’s garage
March 29, 2003
First Bell distribution – 400 Bells hung in Tucson to honor Ben’s life and to share the message of spreading intentional kindness
Ben’s Bells received 501(c)(3) status identifying the organization as a public non-profit
Began Belling program celebrating kind individuals in the Southern Arizona community and honored first Bellee, Willie Blake Jr.
Celebrated 5th anniversary – 500 Ben’s Bells hung in New Orleans
First Celebration of Kindness Day event hosted to share the message of Ben’s Bells and thank the community
2007 – 2008
Kind Kids Program, now known as Kind Campus, piloted in four elementary schools, inspiring students to create a culture of kindness in their communities and beyond
1,400 Bells hung throughout the Tucson community and the event featured on NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment
First Team KIND rode in El Tour de Tucson
2012 – 2013
Celebrated 10th anniversary and hung 30,000th Bell
Kind Colleagues program began creating a kind and engaged workplace by strengthening the culture from within
100th mural completed at Roadrunner Elementary School
Celebrated 15th anniversary – 1,500 Bells hung in Tucson, Phoenix, and Connecticut
2017 – 2018
Ben’s Bells welcomes Executive Director, Helen Gomez!
Celebrate 20th Anniversary at Celebration of Kindness
The iconic “I am Tucson” Mural was recreated with the help of the community to commemorate Ben’s Bells 20th anniversary.