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Lady Gaga's Mom Hosts BBQ At Homeless Shelter Near Daughter's Wrigley Show

By  Ariel Cheung and Linze Rice | August 25, 2017 5:05pm 

 Cynthia Germanotta held hands with participants at the event, sharing with them words of encouragement and listening to their stories.
Cynthia Germanotta held hands with participants at the event, sharing with them words of encouragement and listening to their stories.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice

LAKEVIEW — In the shadow of Wrigley Field ahead of her daughter's concert there Friday night, Lady Gaga's mother started her day at a very different, much smaller party.

Just down Addison Street, Cynthia Germanotta walked through the cramped hallways and tight quarters of The Crib, an overnight shelter for 18- to 24-year-old members of the homeless community, including many who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

Germanotta was representing the Born This Way Foundation, which she co-founded with her pop superstar daughter — whose real name is Stefani Germanotta — to create safe spaces, promote education and create a "braver, kinder world."

She also came to congratulate Kishonda Johnson, the bright 20-year-old who won the foundation's Channel Kindness Award. The foundation, with help from the Peace First organization, chose winners in eight cities on Lady Gaga's Joanne World Tour who wanted to contribute an act of kindness to their community.


Johnson, whose seven-month stint without a home recently came to an end, asked the foundation to help her throw an afternoon barbecue for others who have stayed at The Crib.

"When I was staying here, I was close to giving up at first, but then I realized I was so close to having my own apartment," Johnson said. "I just had to stay focused."

Johnson, who recently moved into an apartment on Bryn Mawr with support from the Night Ministry, gave Germanotta a tour of The Crib. Germanotta saw the blue mats that about 20 teens and young adults sleep on each night, the one bathroom and the newly installed lockable storage cubbies.

She also joined Johnson and other members of The Night Ministry, which operates The Crib and other housing programs in Chicago, in sharing positive affirmations about their lives, a tradition each night at The Crib.

As part of Johnson's prize, she and Germanotta handed out backpacks filled with supplies to help those who are still experiencing homelessness. Johnson also received two free tickets to the Lady Gaga concert at Wrigley Field Friday.

Johnson, who describes herself as shy but is popular with her many friends at The Crib, is from Kentucky but moved to Chicago a year ago to live with her biological mother. When she clashed with her mother's boyfriend, Johnson said she tried living in a shelter in Humboldt Park, but a violent encounter sent her looking for a new place to stay.

"My aunt told me to start fresh, so I did that," Johnson said. Now, she hopes to work with Peace First to become a mentor to other young adults.

For Germanotta, seeing The Crib and meeting the people who live there was "overwhelming."

"I would encourage everyone to visit a place like this and see the the hope that it brings," she said. "It's one thing to hear about [homelessness] in communities, but when you actually see what's happening, you realize what people go through."

Cynthia Germanotta and Kishonda Johnson together celebrating work being done to help homeless LGBT youth in Chicago. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]