Being blessed by benevolence

Jack Vuturo, third-grader, receives a “Be Kind” program coin necklace from Milee Kamell, a fourth-grader, at Soleng Tom Elementary School in Tucson, Ariz., April 10, 2014. “Be Kind” coin necklaces are given to students who perform an act of kindness throughout the week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jack Vuturo, third-grader, receives a “Be Kind” program coin necklace from Milee Kamell, a fourth-grader, at Soleng Tom Elementary School in Tucson, Ariz., April 10, 2014. “Be Kind” coin necklaces are given to students who perform an act of kindness throughout the week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Soleng Tom Elementary School students wear “Be Kind” program coined necklaces from the Ben’s Bells Project in Tucson, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Ben’s Bells Foundation has been active for more than 10 years and has placed more than 40,000 necklaces in public places.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Soleng Tom Elementary School students wear “Be Kind” program coined necklaces from the Ben’s Bells Project in Tucson, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Ben’s Bells Foundation has been active for more than 10 years and has placed more than 40,000 necklaces in public places.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, dawns her helmet before a Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Mare received the Hometown Hero Award for the resilience she displayed following a personal tragedy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, dawns her helmet before a Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Mare received the Hometown Hero Award for the resilience she displayed following a personal tragedy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, performs a function test on her flight harness before a Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Mare checks her gear to ensure that all safety precautions have been met. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, performs a function test on her flight harness before a Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 10, 2014. Mare checks her gear to ensure that all safety precautions have been met. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, climbs a ladder to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. Mare received a chance to fly with U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds after winning the Hometown Hero Award. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, climbs a ladder to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. Mare received a chance to fly with U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds after winning the Hometown Hero Award. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Fisher, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Air Demonstration Squadron pilot, goes through his flight checklist with Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. The “Ambassadors in Blue” have been performing aerial demonstrations for more than 60 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Fisher, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Air Demonstration Squadron pilot, goes through his flight checklist with Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. The “Ambassadors in Blue” have been performing aerial demonstrations for more than 60 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron taxis to the runway with Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. The project’s mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act accordingly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron taxis to the runway with Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, during her Hometown Hero Flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. The project’s mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act accordingly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

A U.S. Air Force Thunderbird takes off during a Hometown Hero Flight for Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. During preparation for the flight, Mare said she was honored and humbled for being selected to fly with the Thunderbirds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

A U.S. Air Force Thunderbird takes off during a Hometown Hero Flight for Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells Project, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 11, 2014. During preparation for the flight, Mare said she was honored and humbled for being selected to fly with the Thunderbirds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sivan Veazie/Released)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., -- Jeannette Mare, founder and executive director of Ben's Bells Project, flew in a Hometown Hero flight with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, April 11.

After 11 years of service, Mare was awarded the Hometown Hero Award for the resilience she displayed following a personal tragedy.

"I was completely shocked, because it is quite an honor to be nominated for this award and I'm just humbled by it," said Mare.

Following the loss of her 3-year-old son, Ben, Mare found it hard to cope with life.

"I was just so devastated after his death, I didn't know how I could continue living," said Mare.

While mourning the passing of her son, she started recognizing the power of kindness, which would later give her the idea to start the Ben's Bells Project.

The Project's mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing the world for the better.

"These acts of kindness is what kept me alive after Ben's passing, just the little things like someone holding the door for me," said Mare. "The project is in celebration of Ben's life and I am so overwhelmed by the success of it."

The Ben's Bells Project also teaches everyone that even the little acts of kindness can mean so much to someone else, which later got her nominated by Martha Damek, a school counselor.
 
"[Jeannette] is reaching out to make the world a better place to live," said Damek. "Her passion of spreading "acts of kindness" is not limited to any age, gender, or race."

Mare has learned that kindness is not something a person is born with or without. It is a skillset that can be learned over time. She has been working and studying with University of Arizona professors about this skillset and how she can help educate others.

As a result of winning the Hometown Hero Award, Mare was selected by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to fly with them in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"It was awesome, in every sense of the word," said Mare. "It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so grateful to have had this privilege!"