There is a Tucson tradition you must hear. Ben’s Bells Project is a story like no other. Check out their website if you are not in Tucson. However, if you are in Tucson, I strongly encourage you to visit one of the studios. This will allow you to spread kindness, love, and the joy that comes from compassion at work.
While visiting Tucson, AZ, my college friend, Shannon, pointed to a sticker on a car window that read, "Be Kind." Shannon was excited as she began to share the following story.
On March 29th, 2002, a family's life was changed forever. Their son, Ben, who was nearly three years old, was struggling with a terrible cold. Ben’s airway swelled shut. It took only seconds for him to become unconscious.
My heart broke at such a sad story. How terrible it must have been for his mother, Jeannette, who fought, giving her baby boy mouth to mouth, trying to save him. Unfortunately, Jeannette was not successful in her efforts to save Ben. I wanted to cry. However, the story did not end there. To honor Ben, the family came up with a design for Ben's Bells and started making these bells with friends. The family decided to make hundreds of Ben's Bells to distribute randomly throughout the community of Tucson. They wanted to encourage the spread of kindness. The same kindness that people had shown them as they struggled to get through each day following the death of their son. On the first anniversary of Ben's death, hundreds of Ben's Bells were distributed throughout Tucson. They symbolized kindness, and its power in healing.
Ben's Bells are scattered throughout the community, each with a story of inspiration and kindness attached. You cannot buy these bells. They must be found. If you find a bell, you are allowed to take it home. It signifies as a daily reminder of inspiration, education, and motivation for people to realize the impact of intentional kindness.
My heart ached to help out. Shannon smiled at me and said "We can!" Opportunities abound at the Ben's Bells Project. This includes donating money and physically making the bells themselves.
We went to the Main Studio. Shannon and I worked on the clay pieces. The other kids painted some that had already been through the kiln. After working for an hour, I had managed to make a clay dolphin, some hearts, and some "I Love You" hand signs since Jaennette was a Deaf Education teacher and an interpreter. She would never see our efforts, but I wanted to share my sorrow and respect for Janette and her son. The act of giving gave me a sense of peace and joy I will never forget.
A girl just trying to find her way, stepping outside of her comfort zone, trying new things, and making new friends along the way!