Mother and Daughter Reunited after Nearly a Decade

Hope, Support, and Perseverance Reunite Mother and Daughter

When a person loses their housing, they often begin to lose other things as well. It might start out with the loss of a job or financial security, then all their photo albums and heirlooms, then things really begin to unravel. Some will lose their medications, their identification paperwork, and eventually bits of themselves. Sometimes it takes months or even years to get themselves back. And for some, the loss is too great and they can never find a way back.

Shonté Johnson is a Social Welfare Undergraduate student at UC Berkeley and an intern for BOSS for two years. More than a decade ago, her mother lost her housing, and Shonté lost her mom.

“I dedicated my life, education and career to social welfare after my mother became chronically homeless and my family lost complete contact with her. Over the last year, I dedicated my research efforts to ameliorating homelessness and interned at Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) working to combat the root causes of poverty and homelessness.

My mother has been homeless for a total of 12 years. While attempting to locate my mother, HIPPA privacy laws and confidentiality stood in the way. Finally, after disseminating my research on ameliorating homelessness in Alameda County at the 24th Annual National McNair Symposium, BOSS decided to publish an article about my accomplishments. In the article I intentionally mentioned my mother’s full name and expressed my hope in finding her. The article ended up in the hands of my mother’s social worker. She then shared it with my mother and eventually my mother contacted my supervisor Sonja Fitz at BOSS, which led to us reuniting on Christmas Day. After nearly eight years of not having my mother in my life, my family is finally restored.

I would like to give special thanks to the profession of social work and the values we share, to the McNair Program for giving me the opportunity to disseminate my research and publish it, to BOSS for allowing me to intern and publishing my accomplishments in the company newsletter, to the social worker who placed the article in my mother’s hands and for everything that lined up to keep my hopes alive and make them a reality.

I hope that through your dedication to the field of social work, you can all help make stories like this a reality for the many individuals and families that are broken and hurting behind the social ills that we face in our communities. Be the one who takes initiative, goes the extra mile and creates the opportunities to make someone’s dreams a reality.”

Shonté is a member of the BOSS family, and her happiness is our happiness. Reuniting with her mother is the very best outcome and reminds us why it is we do what we do. We work for people, families, and our community. All of us here at BOSS wish Shonté, her mother, and the rest of their family the very best and we will continue to support her, and others just like her, as they make their way through difficult obstacles!