Timothy, also known as Red, served in the military for almost 11 months. Back in 1989, he enlisted to help serve his country. “I’m very proud of my country and very glad that I served. Our country’s in danger right now but I still love her,” Red said.
As a child, Red lived in the deep South, spending time in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. All that moving around made Red realize that he isn’t a big fan of moving around. He has one brother who has Down syndrome and is still living down in Texas. On Dec. 7, 2014, Red’s father passed away from a heart attack. His mom had passed in 2008. After doing some research and following clues, Red found out that his father wasn’t actually his biological father.
Growing up, his uncle would always give him presents when he didn’t give anyone else gifts — he tended to single Red out more. Red discovered that his biological father had come out as gay and was rejected by his conservative Christian family. He passed away in the ’80s due to complications from AIDS. “I never really knew my dad. I understand that when my stepdad looked at me he probably hated me,” Red said. Eventually, Red and his stepfather had a great relationship.
“My life feels like a soap opera,” Red said while laughing.
Growing up in a conservative Christian household, Red went to school in an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program, which means he technically couldn’t enlist in the military because the program didn’t meet the qualifications of a high school diploma. He had to take a high school equivalency exam to meet those requirements. While he was in the military, Red got post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He got discharged for cracking under pressure. Today, Red knows that he suffers from PTSD and tries to keep it in check. Living on the street doesn’t help.
In October, Red received housing. Before that, he was living homeless in Las Vegas, Nevada. He got arrested there for sleeping in a stairwell of a plaza and placed in a Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program that eventually moved him up to Seattle. He wanted to try someplace new and he chose Seattle. That was five years ago. He was living on the street until he received help from the Veterans Administration, where he received his Section 8 voucher. Having a home helps Red take care of his mental health as well as his physical health. Red discovered that the best way to take care of himself is to not have to worry about where he is sleeping each night. “People die when they’re outside,” Red said. The stability has allowed Red to become more involved with Real Change.
Since receiving his Section 8 voucher, he has been able to do more things that he is interested in at Real Change. He has become heavily involved with our advocacy department. “I want to write a letter to the mayor to have her see what it’s really like,” Red said about living on the street. He also has been able to get involved with the editorial committee, where he can share ideas and questions about what goes into the paper. His involvement wouldn’t be possible without living in a stable environment.
Red has been selling Real Change since 2009. He is thankful to be involved with other parts of Real Change because he knows they are making a difference. You can visit Red at his selling location on Fifth and Cherry.
Red is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Read the full Jan. 23 - 29 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.