Bell Teammates Serve in Fort Myers, Florida

This article was originally published in Chimes, a newsletter sent to Bell employees.

During the last week of February, ten Bell employees packed their bags and headed south to Fort Myers, Florida, for the company’s first service trip since the pandemic.

The goal of the trip was to support one of our key partners, ECHO: an organization that works to create sustainable hunger solutions for small-scale farmers. We served together, built connections across teams, and learned more about the work ECHO is doing.

Learn more about ECHO’s work here!

By working with a charity Bell regularly donates to, we had an up-close view of the impact ECHO makes – and, in turn, we were able to see some of the fruits of our labor here at Bell.

This trip helped us think differently about how our day jobs here at Bell are connected to a bigger purpose. By supporting organizations like ECHO, our jobs are directly connected to helping families around the world grow more food to sell and feed their families.

This is an aspect of Bell’s culture we never want to lose sight of – a deeper connection to the needs of those around us. Our job is adding value not only to the success of the business, but it’s helping people- internally at Bell, in the local communities we work in, and in the greater world around us. Our work has purpose.

In Fort Myers, those needs were very practical, and not at all glamorous – but incredibly rewarding, nonetheless. We served the ECHO staff through various projects: weed whacking, planting, sifting fertilizer, maintenance work, and administrative jobs in the office. We spent our evenings gathered around a living room, engaging in thoughtful discussions on poverty’s complexities and actionable steps we can take from what we’ve learned. Amidst these reflections, we shared moments of laughter and camaraderie.

The team consisted of:

  • Steve Jelmberg (Maintenance, New Brighton Plant)

  • Hernan Gurrola (Treater, New Brighton Plant)

  • Julie Barnet (IT)

  • Linda Check (Logistics, New Brighton)

  • Steve Kracht (Sales, New Brighton)

  • Dan Imholte (Sales, New Brighton)

  • Jennie Johnson (HR)

  • Shane Gardner (Alamco)

  • Maddie Bell (Stewardship)

  • John Ottaviani (Stewardship)

Did you know?

  • The average small-scale farmer only produces half of the food needed for his/her family.

  • There are close to one billion people living in hunger (or undernourished) in the world today.

  • A child dies from hunger-related causes every 12 seconds.

These are facts that describe many of the realities people are facing who are living in poverty. It can feel overwhelming to think about the issue of poverty.

How can we help?

What actions can we take to make a positive difference?

One practical step is to create awareness. On the ECHO trip, for example, we learned about many of the harsh realities that people face around the world when trying to feed their families in harsh climates.

After awareness comes action. We want to cultivate the fruit of what we learned through this serving experience, and a good starting point is looking at how we show up in our own local communities. Action may look like buying produce from local farmers, carving out time in our schedules to volunteer at the homeless shelter, or it may look like simply slowing down and asking the cashier at the store how they’re doing.

Our team came home with some key takeaways as it relates to the work ECHO supports.

1) Support local growers as much as possible when purchasing produce, we have more power than we think as the consumers, and

2) If you can, start serving in your local community and be thoughtful when trying to help someone (learning to slow down and “be with” people, focusing on themes of empowerment and human flourishing when helping).

To that second point, Linda Check noted, “This trip opened my eyes and made me think. It was a rude awakening to see that when we think we are helping people, we could really be hurting them. I will make a conscious effort to start supporting more small businesses and farmers.”

To learn more about how we’re tangibly living out our mission to radically love and influence lives, click here.

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