I recently received an email from a woman who wanted to give me $1,000. No joke. She had $1,000 to give away, and she wanted to give it to me!

Every year, Bell State Bank & Trust gives their employees money to give away in a random act of kindness. This year, the business added a twist and another layer to the fun. The bank employees got to choose a community member to receive the money, who would then, in turn, get to choose the person or organization who gets it for keeps.

I started to cry when Beverly Boss sent me the message. I have never met Beverly before, and I was so touched that, just by reading this column, she felt like she knew me well enough to trust me with this honor.

I gave my money to a woman in West Fargo whose husband is struggling with a rare, progressive and untreatable disease. This woman has quit her job to care for her husband. I wanted the couple to know that this community cares.

Being able to walk in their home and hand them a check for $1,000 was an experience I will never forget.

But I’m not the only one who got to partake in this experience. Melissa and Trinity Schaff were surprised and delighted when their friend asked them to participate, too!

“Karla Winandy of Bell State Bank asked my husband and me if we would like to give away $1,000 of Bell State Bank’s Pay It Forward money.

“Karla remembered the Mother’s Day story The Forum ran last year about my husband and our daughter handing out flowers to moms who were unluckily/luckily grocery shopping on Mother’s Day. She thought we ‘would be the perfect recipients’ and that we’d do something truly heartfelt.’

“I was overjoyed to be given this honor. And of course, I really wanted to find a good cause for this money. I didn’t want it to go to a well-known or large nonprofit or charity. I wanted something smaller, something local, something within our community.

“My first selection came easily and was somewhat of a no-brainer. I chose the NOW Project, a charity that has a chapter in Fargo. My friend, Mariah Prussia, told me The NOW Project is a worldwide nonprofit organization designed to empower, protect and restore the health and well-being of women and children.

“This organization teaches women and children how to fight an attacker by teaching them warning signals (verbal and non-verbal), how to engage in combat that may save their lives and how to deal with verbal and emotional abuse.

“Mariah is working with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, North Dakota State University and local schools to expand the reach of this curriculum.

“I am a survivor of emotional/verbal abuse and a large part of my work as an intuitive and Reiki master practitioner is to empower others, so you can see why this one was an easy choice for me.

“The second recipient is a mom and grandmother who, over the span of several months, took good, watchful care of our newborn daughter. She allowed this new momma to feel confident we made the right decision to entrust our precious cargo to a local day care. Even after our daughter had transitioned to another room, DeeAnn would check in on her and visit with us.

“At Christmastime, DeeAnn’s husband was in a car accident in which he sustained a debilitating brain injury. Surgeons removed a portion of his brain that deals with memory, and because of this he needs 24-hour care. DeeAnn took a leave of absence from her beloved newborns and became a full-time caretaker for her husband.

“I can only guess the emotional and financial strain this has placed on her and her family. Because of the kindness she showed to this exhausted first-time momma and the devotion she shows to her ‘babies’ and her family, we chose DeeAnn as our second recipient.

“A huge ‘thank you’ to Bell State Bank for offering this program, to The Forum for running the story about the Mother’s Day flowers, to Karla for remembering the story and thinking of us, to Mariah for overcoming her own emotional obstacles to bring The Now Project to Fargo, and to DeeAnn for being DeeAnn.”

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.



Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.