An outpouring of community support for homeless woman in La Jolla

In just nine days, ‘Soul Wise’ women reach $10,000 crowdfunding goal to find ‘Shelter for Shauna’

A crowdfunding campaign created to find permanent housing for an intersex woman, Shauna Smith, who has been on the streets of La Jolla for more than eight years, has received an array of both financial and emotional support from the community.

In just nine days, the women of Soul Wise Coaching have reached their $10,000 goal to secure “Shelter for Shuana,” including three months at a hotel and first and last month’s rent as deposit on an apartment.

More than 85 donations ranging from $10 to $1,000 poured in since a story about their initiative ran in the May 28 edition of La Jolla Light.

Others, such as Bird Rock residents Arielle Ford and Brian Hilliard, donated kitchen utensils, bathroom items and bedding for Shauna’s future apartment, while lead organizer Kirsten Harrison-Jack reported some children were donating their allowances to help Shauna find a home.

An angel investor has also stepped forward, proposing a larger donation of seed money to support Shauna and Soul Wise’s future initiatives to help women facing a variety of life transitions, she said.

Donor comments on Shauna’s page — — pay homage to both Shauna’s positive outlook and lively outfits, as well as her affinity for basketball and other sports as both Shauna and Sean, her birth name and identity until making her transition last year.

“I love seeing Shauna about the Village. Her cheerfulness and colorful clothing and wigs always brighten my day,” one donor posted, while another wrote, “I am a fan of Shauna. I run into her almost every time I take my children to tennis. She is always happy and so nice. I hope that she gets the help she needs.” Another donor recalled knowing Shauna (as Sean) from the La Jolla Rec Center basketball courts. “You were and are always a positive guy! Keep up the good work with the kids and locals.”

Speaking with La Jolla Light from her hotel room Monday, Shauna said she was “overwhelmed” by the support of La Jollans and others, adding she has received a tentative offer from a local school to do some substitute basketball coaching in the fall.

“Life has been wonderful the past five days — I can’t say it enough, just knowing I’m going to have a home soon has been such a relief … not even thinking about being outside anymore, wondering what will happen today or tomorrow,” Shauna said. “I look at today as the best day of my life. It’s a new beginning and I don’t want to even look back.”

Harrison-Jack added, “The whole beauty of this story is the fact that La Jollans really adore Shauna. … The community’s actually saying, ‘You brighten up our community. You make it happier.’ While there’s been so much prejudice in the past for so many reasons, it’s so nice that people are willing to kind of stretch the boundaries of their understanding and be more tolerant and compassionate. ... As Shauna evolves, the community evolves as well.”

Read more at: