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The Secret Door

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When Bruce Baer knocked on Father Miles’ door, he recognized the sound immediately. The knock echoed a bit too loudly; not the solid thump one would expect.

“When you knock on a hollow core door, you know it,” said Bruce, the Senior Vice President at the Belfield location.

The door had no insulation, and no screen door. Bruce asked Father Miles about it, and the retired priest said he was waiting for a carpenter to find a used door.

“You better not wait too long,” Bruce said, “Winter is coming.”

Father Miles is 75 years old and lives alone. He served as a priest for 15 years in Belfield before retiring this year, and moved from Belfield ND, to Richardton ND. He still makes the forty minute trip back to Belfield at least once a week to visit Bruce and his coworkers at Choice Financial bank.

“We all know Father Miles,” said Patty Hutzenbiler, Front Line Specialist at the Belfield location where Bruce works. Likewise, she knew Father Miles was not taking a paycheck from his parish. “He is living on little or nothing,” Patty explained.

Bruce knew this too, as he examined the hollow door. He also knew winter was coming and thought, “if it got cold on him with a hollow core door on the south side of his house, that wind’s going to come right through there.” As soon as he bid farewell, he dialed up Father Miles’ carpenter, Andy, on the phone.

“I heard you’re waiting to find a used door for Father Miles?” Bruce said. “Don’t wait. Just buy one. I’ll pay for it.”

Andy jumped to it. He found a new white door and installed it, free of charge. They never told Father Miles what happened.

“He just knows he got a new door,” Bruce said.

Patty found out when Andy came to make the withdrawal for Bruce she said. When she heard what Bruce had done, however, it didn’t surprise her.

“It’s not the only thing Bruce does for others,” she said.

For over 15 years, he and his wife have hosted a yearly dinner for the local priests and pastors from all denominations. He cooks food that all of the pastors like — liver and onions. This year they cooked over eight pounds of liver for ten people.

Patty wanted to recognize Bruce for the way he helped Father Miles. She nominated him for a #PeopleFirst Story of the Month because of this instance — but in larger part, because of his character, she said. He is someone who consistently looks out for others, whether with financial advice, friendly conversation, or buying a new door.

“Bruce is always stepping up to help somebody,” she said. “He’s always there to help.”