Paying It Forward

In January of this year, Terry Stottlemyer was given a choice too many people have to make: pay up, or get out. Unable to meet their landlord’s increased rates, he and his wife turned to Bell Family Shelter with nowhere else to go. They stayed the full 30 days before exiting to live in their own apartment. Half a year later, Terry is back, this time as a regular volunteer.

Terry is no stranger to charity work, but in his own words, he has not always been “the nice guy.” An ex-Hells Angel, he spent time in a penitentiary before reforming in 1986. As a pastor, he ran a ministry for 14 years and preached up and down the east coast, founding clothing and food banks along the way. In spite of hardships like a car accident that injured his leg and a tornado hitting the ministry, Terry kept on keeping on, spreading the word of the Lord and benefiting those in need. “I wouldn’t trade this,” he affirms, “this life now.”

Terry organizing shoe donations in the basement of Bell Family Shelter.

Eventually, Terry’s travels led him back to his hometown of York where he would find himself on the other end of charity. When he and his wife, who he met while taking driver’s remediation classes over a DUI, landed in Bell Family Shelter, his charitable spirit followed him. He helped out in any way he could, and after their stay at the shelter, he wanted to keep paying it forward. He put in an application to continue volunteering at the shelter while Bell’s Next Door program helped him and his wife find housing. Since then, he’s been helping at the shelter with whatever needs to be done, which usually means sorting donations in the basement and helping out in the kitchen. “I’m always willing to learn, I’m always willing to help, and I think that’s what made me what I am today,” Terry says.

As someone who has experienced homelessness, Terry recognizes the importance of Bell Family Shelter. “You’ve gotta humble yourself at times,” he says, “because there are people that will irritate you, but you have to understand that what they’re going through might be something that you went through.” He and his wife currently live right in front of a dog park where they witness people sleeping in tents every day, giving him a constant reminder of why he supports the shelter.

Terry is now happily housed thanks to the help of Next Door and hopes to buy a house someday. Walking into the future, he aims to follow his calling of helping others by giving them the same opportunities he had at Bell. “The work is important, the people are important, and as long as that stays top priority, this thing is gonna take off. As long as you’re doing the right thing for the right motive, it grows.”

UPDATE: Terry’s still going strong! As of October 16, 2023, Terry’s put in over 200 volunteer hours at the shelter over just four months! Thank you, Terry, for your continued love and support!