BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) – “I always say I was born in a hole, a muddy hole and I had to crawl my way out,” says Harry Bell, as he reflects on the tragedies he faced as a young child. “I was born a crack baby.”
It was a life of hardship in the projects of Bridgeport.
Bell’s mother couldn’t shake her addiction.
“She put a rubber band around her arm, she had a spoon and needle,” he says, remembering a traumatic yet impactful event. “She shot it in her arm and said, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do this.'”
But Bell did turn to alcohol as a young adult to manage his depression until a moment with his son became a turning point.
“I fell and I remember waking up in a pool of blood and my son smacking me saying, ‘Dad, get up,'” he said, noting he never drank again, instead, pouring himself into community work, creating a coloring book as a gift for his son before realizing it could be a gift for the world.
One of the pages says: “In order to achieve, you have to believe.”
“The sketches got me through some of the toughest situations,” says Bell.
He sells Color a Positive Thought to fund free, after-school programs. They were first held on his patio, now, in a once-abandoned building.
“It’s a community center at Trumbull Gardens, one of the worst projects in Bridgeport that I call home,” explains Bell.
Every day, 50 to 75 kids go there to play sports, do homework, and practice art, or hip hop.
Bell keeps them off the streets, giving them the childhood he didn’t have.
“In here, they can be that kid and smile and laugh and feel like they’re home,” he says. “We give them a hot meal every day, too.”
The 38-year-old school resource officer and father of three says he’s focused like a racehorse.
He doesn’t think too much about his extraordinary life, until a smiling kid says, “Thank you”.
“And I get that little fact of ‘thank you’ and then I realize one second what I’m doing then I jump back into the race,” says Bell.
Click here to learn more about Bell and to support his mission.