Campfire: Donna Saffioti-Johnson

Donna, her husband Robert “Jawara” Johnson, and the family dogs Xochitl (age 4) and DJ (age 2 and ½) were served with Ellis Act eviction papers in 2012, and forced out of their 73-B Pearl Street apartment in San Francisco by serial evictors Kwok Chung Wong and Har Kwan Luk.  Since 2003, this company has Ellis Acted 30 units in San Francisco, including the 6 units at Donna’s former home building on Pearl Street.

Originally from Detroit, Donna arrived to San Francisco in 1980. Her first job was as an au pair, and her first lodging was a vestibule under a stairwell. Donna moved into her Pearl Street apartment in 1984 and lived there for 29 years, until her eviction.  She has worked 34 continuous years providing community services.  In the ’80s, she worked in AIDS prevention and intervention, and founded one of the earliest youth needle exchange programs in the City.  Donna has worked at Horizons Unlimited for 26 years, primarily, in substance abuse and prevention education in jails and schools, and as an individual counselor and street outreach professional.  She is a beloved Hood Momma to many street affiliated youth with whom she has come into contact through work and life.

Building directly from the foundations of trust laid by Donna, and through a formal collaboration with Nora Reddick, Executive Director at Horizons Unlimited, Adriana Camarena worked with a group of gang-affiliated youth to form a collaboration called the Late Night Poets.  The Late Night Poets are now working towards self-publishing a book of their poetic writings.

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