Progress: ‘We connect giving hearts with needs:’ Tim Bell gives talents and time to Shallow Ford Foundation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

When Tim Bell and his wife Donyea decided on where they wanted to live once he retired from his 20-plus years in the Air Force, Clemmons came up as a possible destination.

“Being in the military, the spouse always gets the short end of the stick with where you are stationed,” Bell said with a laugh. “So, I told my wife that when I retired, we could live wherever she wanted. Her sister, Dr. Pamela Dockery Howard, lives here and we really liked the area. I didn’t even have a job yet, but we wanted to make Clemmons our home.”

Bell eventually found work through a headhunter at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, now Atrium Health, as an accountant in the spring of 2001. He is currently the director of facilities management for Atrium Health and is also the chair of the Shallow Ford Foundation.

“I knew I wanted to become involved in the community that we lived in, and I have served on numerous boards over the years,” Bell said. “This is the most thoughtful, organized and driven and results-oriented board I’ve ever sat on. They are a very talented group of people to work with. You are only as talented as the people you surround yourself with. I have the privilege to shepherd the process as the chair, but the real brain trust is in the staff, the board and the donors. It’s an honor to be a part of this organization. This foundation is infectious. The things they do are transformational, and you can see the positive changes in people’s lives. Connecting with donors who want to help but don’t necessarily know how to do it, we can step in and help them. We connect giving hearts with needs.”

Bell got involved with the Shallow Ford Foundation through his friend Greg Brewer, a past board member.
“He told me that I would be a great fit for this organization and everything it stands for and does,” Bell said. “I’ve been a part of this great group for three years now and the last two as the board chair. The community I grew up in, we used to have block parties and events to get to know one another, help one another. That’s totally changed in a lot of areas these days and communities suffer because of that. I got involved because I want to make a difference.
Lily Tomlin said, ‘somebody ought to do something about that. Then I realized, I’m somebody.’
Each one of us has a gift, has time, treasures, talents, that we can give to an organization that allows us to be something bigger than ourselves. That’s why I wanted to get involved. We are all here to help someone else.”
Bell said that being involved on the Shore Scholars Committee was the hook. It is one of numerous scholarships the Shallow Ford Foundation awards every year to area students, which not only offers a financial component, but also provides a peer group and a personal mentor during high school and for two years behind high school graduation.
“Being at the signing ceremony for the Shore Scholars was my hook,” Bell said.

Bell bounced around several locations while in the Air Force — Rome, New York, Knob Noster, Missouri, Goldsboro, Northern Virginia and Iceland.
He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and joined the Air Force not to become a pilot, but because he wanted to see the world and he wanted a challenge.

“There weren’t many people from my neighborhood who looked like me that were joining the Air Force. I knew it would help open a lot of doors for me. But I have a lot of respect for pilots. Once you pull six, seven Gs (g-force), you develop a healthy respect. I also thought I was going to see the world. Mostly, I saw the east coast of the United States,” Bell said with a laugh.

Bell began his Air Force career doing aircraft security for six years before moving into accounting.
“Hey, I’m a bean-counter by trade,” Bell said with a laugh. “And the funniest part of that is that math was my worst subject in high school.”

Bell said that being in the military has helped him in every direction that life has taken him in.
“Building relationships, being a team, being driven are all things that I learned from the military that I still carry through in all my work now,” Bell said. “The real beauty of the military is that it brought people together who would have otherwise never met and made them work together. You learn a lot about diversity and learning about people and understanding them. That’s a community. It prepared me prepared me to work at any level. It prepared me to transition into what I’m doing now. I deal with the most contentious things possible — money, space and people.”

Bell loves being involved with the Shallow Ford Foundation and loves the Clemmons area.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” Bell said. “The needs here are the same as they are in most other communities. Relationships matter, and building those relationships matter I think I’m most proud of the transformational changes that we make with the foundation. The grants in the communities. The scholarships where we help lift students up. I work with a thoughtful, determined group of people who have huge hearts. We are always looking forward, always asking what we can do to help the community. We make connections and I love that. We’re doing stuff constantly. You can’t be around our group without wanting to do something.”