Travis Towne enjoys his peace and quiet. This is in contrast to, and perhaps because of, a very tumultuous childhood. “I suffered a lot of child abuse growing up,” Towne recalls.
It took several years before Towne discovered the true toll of his formative years. “Between my mom passing away in 2010, and me being old enough to where my thinking had advanced, I wanted to focus on me, and I had the mentality to do it.” So Towne started working to repair his mental health, and found out that he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Due to his PTSD, Towne found it difficult to maintain work as a laborer. When his longtime partner, Stacie Stinger, started to show signs of carpal tunnel and could no longer work, he needed a way to make quick, consistent income. That is how Towne found Real Change.
His favorite location to sell the paper is at the PCC in Kirkland. “I didn’t realize how much the panhandlers and the traffic behind me was messing with my PTSD (before). Now, it’s real quiet. I’m on private property so we don’t gotta deal with no one.”
Despite Towne’s love for Real Change, there have been times when he feels as if he is not doing enough, so he has taken a few short breaks to try to land a more traditional job. “I was born in 1970, in a time when men went to work no matter what,” Towne explains. Until he finds that job he’s looking for, Towne knows he always has a place and family at Real Change. “My life is always changing, except there’s always Real Change.”
Born and raised in Seattle, Towne was running around the streets of downtown when he was just 13 years old, and has been struggling with homelessness since he was 18. Towne’s three brothers and sister live in the Seattle area, and he tries to maintain contact with them. Towne has two daughters, as well as four step kids through his longtime partner, Stacie.
Hearing Towne speak, it is obvious that he has a passion for connecting with people suffering from mental illness. Towne has a daughter living with Down Syndrome, and often meets people who are dealing with a wide array of disorders. As Towne recounts a story of trying to support a man struggling with schizophrenia on the bus, he explains some of the complexities involved in living with a mental illness. “People are out there struggling with their mental health,” he explains. “Some know it, some don’t. Some self-medicate because they don’t know better, or they put themselves down until that’s the only option. Just cause you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
Travis is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Check out the full Nov. 21 - 27 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change.