Melendez: Kyle Joseph Bell’s memory lives on

MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN

This column appeared on page C3 in the Star-News sports section on Saturday, May 9

It was in these pages nearly two months ago when we brought you the story of Kyle Joseph Bell, 22, who died in his sleep after an apparent heart failure last August.

He was an endearing and beloved son, brother, friend and confidant to those lucky enough that knew him.

Kyle’s loss was especially tough on Jordan Bell, the senior goalkeeper of the St. Francis High boys soccer team.

Jordan was getting ready to start the season last year when the unthinkable happened.

A season seemingly in despair was sparked by a great run in the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs that ultimately led to a magical season accentuated by the clinching of a CIF Southern California Championship in March.

Though Kyle’s presence was gone in body, his spirit was kept alive by small but meaningful tributes from Jordan.

“I did this for him,” Jordan said at the time. “We both got our redemption.”

It’s been nearly nine months since his passing but the Bell family is making a collective effort to keep his spirit alive.

Every first Monday of each month, “Team Kyle Bell” – one of about 100 groups made up of families and church groups that also volunteer – get together to serve dinner at the Union Station Homeless Services’ Family Center.

The San Gabriel Valley’s largest social services agency assisting homeless men, women and children is celebrating its 35th anniversary today at the California club in downtown Los Angeles.

The Family Center is a 50-bed shelter for homeless families, from single fathers and mothers to grandparents with children.

“All of the families who live at the Family Center make a commitment to stability and work with a case manager to follow a plan to move them from their current situation to self-efficiency,” said Dana Bean, communications specialist and grant writer for Union Station Homeless Services. “We’ve had great success. Year to date 93 percent of families who exited have moved on to stable housing.”

Perhaps by design, the Bell family made sure their time served the homeless well.

While working as a runner for the “Dr. Phil Show” at Paramount Studios, Kyle befriended a homeless man with whom he later shared lunches.

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Last Monday, “Team Kyle Bell” got together for the first time since the article “Bell’s brother gone in body, not in spirit” was published in the March 18 edition of the Star-News.

Karen Bell, an elementary teacher at Ramona Elementary in the Alhambra School District, extended an invitation and I accepted.

While there, I met the entire Bell Family, and it was no surprise why Kyle was so respected and admired.

On this particular Monday, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, “Team Kyle Bell” served beef and chicken tacos, refried beans and authentic Mexican rice.

“We try to make it a special meal,” Karen said. “Not just Costco lasagna.

“We want to show the people that we care about them enough to put some effort into it.”

That they did.

“This is better than eating at King Taco,” said a man who needed just two bites for a resounding approval.

Standing there and watching the kids run around had me think if among them was a future Star-News Player of the Year. How about a future judge, lawyer, doctor, or, heck, even the next president.

It’s a subtle thought that probably goes through the mind of those who volunteer their time there and at other various non-profit organizations.

All because of one charming kid’s story.

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485