Janeen Berg-Johnson has been part of the ACOFcommunity since April 1999. And although she now lives a stable life living in a place that she can call home, her life prior to ACOFhas been anything but ordinary.

Janeen was born in the middle of a snow storm, which prevented her mother from receiving medical attention, and resulted in her delivering Janeen all by herself.

Janeen grew up on a farm in Staten Island where she was surrounded by many animals. Caring for her farm animals cultivated a love for all living creatures, such as the plants in the photo above. Janeen has cared for Frick, Frack, Audry and Hepburn for over a year and has seen them grow relentlessly.

In her adult years, Janeen became quite a globe trotter, traveling across the country and the world. Some of her most memorable travels include New York, London, Bombay, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Janeen developed a debilitating depression which made it impossible for her to continue working and ultimately forced her into homelessness. Her experience in homelessness was an extremely traumatic one, particularly for someone as independent and rambunctious as her.

What “Commuity” means to Janeen

“It was 21 years ago, through the grace of God, I was pulled off the streets by A Community of Friends.

I was living in my car on the streets of San Pedro, California. It was March of 1999. I started sliding down the slide and boy did I hit the bottom. That was a very bad depression and I lost my job and my home. I was living in my car and my friend called me. She worked with the County of Los Angeles. She gave me 3 numbers. I called the first one…keep in mind, I’m crying while I’m doing this. And then I hear, ‘Good morning, A Community of Friends’ and I started crying more than I had ever been crying and I told the woman on the phone about my situation. This was the beginning of my life through A Community of Friends.

 All throughout these 21 years, I could go to my Case Managers or my Property Manager, and they would help me with whatever I needed at that time. I just want to say thank you to everyone at A Community of Friends. Thank you for keeping me happy and alive!

Well…first and foremost, I got a bed. A bed that I could jump into and stretch out on and go to sleep in! That is a big difference from sleeping in your car. They (ACOF) also provided me with a real, physical address, a room of my own with my own private bathroom. What more can a gal ask for? Well I didn’t ask for it actually, but…I was lucky to get my room painted, and I got my carpets replaced and they even put new wooden flooring in my bathroom! Well you know because you helped me with everything (ACOF Case Manager)…and you made me get rid of a lot of junk!

It’s nice when you can go down the stairs or through the building and someone says hi to you, and you say hi back, and then you ask each other how you’re doing and you really mean it…that really feels good and makes my day and hopefully I make their day…and that…that’s community. And I get to do that every day here!

Do you know that I am the oldest person in the building? I’ll be 80 years old in January! Well, you know what else I like to do? I like the groups that we have here. I think it is so neat when we get together to take care of the plants in the garden. And also, it is so cool to pick the vegetables and use ‘them’ when we have our cooking groups. That is great stuff and we are all together helping each other out.

I really am getting older and now I need help in ways that I never thought of. I am glad you (ACOF Case Manager) thought of getting the handlebars put in my shower. Now I can take a shower without thinking about being scared that I am going to fall! And the maintenance man…boy is he sweet. He made sure they were the perfect height and let me test it out before everything was finished. He was so patient and he made sure it was a perfect fit for me! I am really lucky because throughout the years I have made many contacts with other tenants and have gotten to know my neighbors. I couldn’t be any happier and I wouldn’t have done any of this without you all at A Community of Friends.”