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Hawaii News

Mom keeps fighting despite challenges

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Joanna Schutz posed by the family’s Christmas tree with her 18-year-old daughter, Misty, and service dog Nugget.

After years of addiction — to alcohol and to drugs from marijuana to crystal meth — Joanna Schutz is in recovery, sober for 20 months.

“I picked myself up and dusted myself off,” Schutz said. “I do what I need to do to take care of my children.”

She lives with the youngest of her three children, 18-year-old Misty, who will graduate from high school in May. Misty is in the JROTC program, has a leadership position in school, is on the drill team and does volunteer work.

“I’m so proud of her,” Schutz said.

Catholic Charities Hawaii has helped the family overcome challenges, including finding housing.

“My children were never homeless, but we came pretty close to it,” she said.

Staying afloat has always been a struggle.


More than 800 families will be served this year by the Good Neighbor Fund. To donate to the Schutz family in particular, use the Family Code: HWV-64
>> At the bank: Donations will be accepted at all First Hawaiian Bank locations through Dec. 31.
>> Online: Go to HelpingHandsHawaii.org and click on the “donate now” button to make a gift via PayPal. Specify “Good Neighbor Fund.”
>> By mail: Make your check payable to “Good Neighbor Fund” and mail it to Helping Hands Hawaii, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819. Attention: Good Neighbor Fund.
>> Donations of goods: Drop off at the address above.
>> Call: 440-3800

“After I pay the bills, there’s not much left over to do anything. My daughter and I live month-to-month,” Schutz said.

“My daughter helps me a lot. We don’t have much, but we make it, but I can’t afford to buy my baby girl anything,” she said. “She works so hard helping me, in school and helping others. I would just like her to have something nice.”


Schutz, 47, suffers from panic attacks and has a service dog to help her. She also attends daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to help battle her addictions.

She has been disabled for 10 years with severe back problems, so she can’t work. Her back was injured in a car accident when she was 19 and her condition has worsened over the years.

“The good, the bad and the ugly … I’ve had all of those. We need to deal with what we were dealt with,” she said. “God is on my side. I plan to persevere no matter what challenges I face.”

Wish List

For herself: Household items, cleaning supplies, bath sets, towels, women’s tank tops (size large), shorts (large), gift cards

For Misty: Headphones, shoes (size 10), jeans (size 15), gift cards

Looking forward

Misty plans to become an emergency medical technician, and Schutz’s goal is to help her daughter find a way to pay for college. They are researching financial aid and scholarship funding.

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