“She Was Just a Struggling Person”

Watch on YouTube.com

Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Manager

As a child, Timothy Bell was terrified of his mother. He escaped her abuse at age 12, and lived on the streets for a summer before entering the foster care system. Years later, after his mother died, Timothy made a discovery that changed his perception of her.

Timothy shared his story in October at the “Talk It Up: Stories of Home, Lost & Found” event hosted by the nonprofit organization Building Changes. Earlier in 2015, Timothy joined the “Home: Lost and Found” workshop, where storytelling experts from The Moth taught him to share his experience as a brief, compelling story.

Foster care and homelessness

Timothy aged out of the foster care system at 18. He’s said that throughout his life, he has experienced multiple periods of homelessness.

This experience is all too common. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) published a report last year on Youth at Risk of Homelessness, which indicates that about one in four Washington youth who age out of foster care experience homelessness.

Now Timothy works with the Inspire Youth Project and the International Foster Care Alliance, where he helps young people in foster care improve the system in their own communities.

Further resources

  • Learn about The Mockingbird Society, an advocacy organization that works with young people and families to improve foster care and end youth homelessness.
  • Read about Columbia Legal Services’ work to improve foster care.
  • Listen to a personal story from a woman whose seven-year experience with homelessness was precipitated by her placement in foster care at age 13.

Watch more personal stories

  • Last month, we shared Liz Allen’s story about losing her home in a fire as a teenager. On April 26, come back to the Firesteel blog to watch Gretchen Waschke talk about receiving an eviction notice.
  • Visit The Moth’s YouTube page to watch stories recorded at their “Home: Lost and Found” April 2015 showcase.

Get the Firesteel Blog in Your Inbox