Fifteen years ago, Jeannette Maré never thought Ben’s Bells would be what it is now.

What started as a one-time project to spread kindness in remembrance of her son, who died before his third birthday, has grown into an organization that almost every Tucsonan recognizes.

“In that grief, you just feel like you don’t know how to survive it,” Maré says. “I started thinking about kindness differently.”

Ben’s Bells has made its mark in several cities throughout the country. “Be Kind” murals are plastered on public buildings and in hundreds of schools. There’s even a studio in Connecticut, which opened shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting.

“Ben’s Bells just grew and grew. It’s unbelievable,” Maré says. “In some ways, I still can’t fully grasp it, but it also makes me really optimistic for people.”

But with growth comes added responsibilities — far too many for just one person.

So, Maré, the founder and executive director of Ben’s Bells, will be setting her director duties aside and hiring someone to lead the organization.

“As the organization gets bigger, the roles get bigger,” she says. “It’s outgrown my person.”

Maré says she won’t be disappearing. She says she’ll still uphold her founder duties, such as speaking at events.

And although the organization welcomes positive change, especially with a new executive director on the way, Ben’s Bells’ mission won’t change.

“We always want new and fresh ideas,” she says. “But the mission is the same — how we inspire people to understand that the practice of kindness is a lifetime endeavor.”

Maré expects to begin the hiring process very soon. The Ben’s Bells team is looking for someone who can bring creative ideas and connect with staff and the community.

“There’s a certain energy that brings,” she says. “Maybe it’s a passion, but it uplifts people.”

Folks looking for more information about the position can visit bensbells.org/careers

Contact reporter Gloria Knott at gknott@tucson.com or 573-4235. On Twitter: @gloriaeknott