Founder’s Story

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

January 2005

Ben’s Bells received 501(c)(3) status identifying the organization as a public non-profit

September 2005

Began Belling program celebrating kind individuals in the Southern Arizona community and honored first Bellee, Willie Blake Jr.

October 2006

Opened first public studio in Main Gate Square in Tucson, Arizona

March 2007

Celebrated 5th anniversary – 500 Ben’s Bells hung in New Orleans

April 2007

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


Murals Program began installing kindness-themed murals in public spaces

January 2011

1,400 Bells hung throughout the Tucson community and the event featured on NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment

January 2012

Opened second public studio in the heart of Downtown Tucson

November 2012

First Team KIND rode in El Tour de Tucson

2012 – 2013

Scientitic Advisory Board created to support Ben’s Bells educational programming

March 2013

Celebrated 10th anniversary and hung 30,000th Bell

Spring 2013

Third public studio opens in Newtown, Connecticut

January 2014

Kind Colleagues program began creating a kind and engaged workplace by strengthening the culture from within

September 2014

Shop KIND opened to offer purpose-driven shopping that impacts the entire community

August 2015

100th mural completed at Roadrunner Elementary School

June 2015

Fourth public studio opens in Phoenix, Arizona

March 2018

Celebrated 15th anniversary – 1,500 Bells hung in Tucson, Phoenix, and Connecticut

2017 – 2018

Participation in Kind Campus programming exceeded 500 schools

March 2019

Ben’s Bells welcomes Executive Director, Helen Gomez!


Celebrate 20th Anniversary at Celebration of Kindness

Fall 2023

The iconic “I am Tucson” Mural was recreated with the help of the community to commemorate Ben’s Bells 20th anniversary.