The Breakthrough Outreach Shelter Network is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to solving homelessness with technological solutions in the Silicon Valley. Partnering with churches, social service agencies and donors, we provide a lifeline to those struggling to survive outside.
The stories of the homeless are tragic, but they are relatable. We recognize that the homeless are members of our community. More importantly, we realize that the homeless could be our children, brothers, sisters, or parents. Santa Clara county per capita ranks fifth in homelessness nationally. This issue is a problem that impacts us all. Having lost her brother to homelessness and addiction, BOSN Founder, Karen Addato, brings her personal experience, passion and dedication to the table as the Executive Director of BOSN to help this organization be part of the solution to this human crisis.
Our vision would be nothing without the support of churches, volunteers, donors, and local organizations. From funding to outreach, the mission of Breakthrough Outreach Shelter Network is only possible with help from the community. Working together is a necessary step in helping to end homelessness in the Silicon Valley.
We believe that any solution to homelessness in the 21st century requires the integration of digital technology. From mobile applications to customized Rovers, our services aim to connect the homeless to what they need to not only to survive, but to thrive.
Several years ago, Karen and her son prepared food for their weekly visits to Saint James park in downtown San Jose. Every Sunday, the two would walk the sidewalks hand-in-hand while delivering meals to the homeless. Karen, however, soon realized that although her heart was in the right place, her food wasn’t the answer to the multiple problems that the homeless face
“I realized that the homeless can still suffer with a full belly. Food is important. But they need services to get off the streets, and that’s when I knew we needed new solutions.”
The Sunday walks in Saint James blossomed into a non-profit 501(c)(3). Karen has evolved her approach. Pragmatic yet compassionate, her Breakthrough Outreach Shelter Network seeks to tackle the many complex issues of homelessness in Santa Clara Valley. A Bay Area native, Karen’s understanding of Santa Clara homelessness, rising property values, and impacted social services allows her to create innovative solutions. Although her past projects and outreach make her qualified to work for this community, Karen’s personal life is intertwined with homelessness.
The passion Karen gives to her organization began with her younger brother, Stevie. Throughout childhood, he was a loved brother and son and had a bright future ahead of him. Stevie, however, fell on hard times and into homelessness.
For years Karen did not hear from Stevie. A drifter–as so many other homeless are–Stevie navigated the world of homelessness without the support of his family. After twelve years without contact, Karen posted a Craigslist ad about her brother, praying for a response. After a few days of cat-and-mouse, she received a message from a couple of compassionate firefighters. After searching for more than a decade, Karen came into contact with her brother once more.
But like many homeless, the struggle does not stop with reconnection. Although provided with housing, Stevie relapsed several times into homelessness. A decade in tents and shanties became home to him, sleeping beneath the open sky. But the services he was given advocated a housing-first policy, believing that taking Stevie off the streets would save him. And Stevie tried–he was ready to give up his life on the streets. Yet his walled house was claustrophobic, the rooms eerily silent; this was a life foreign to Stevie.
And so despite the compassion, care, and housing Stevie received, he ultimately died in the streets only a month after their reconnection.
Karen, although devastated with the loss of her brother, became even more motivated to create technological solutions to this complex issue. Her experiences with brother made her aware to the flaws of existing solutions to homelessness. And so all aspects of the Breakthrough Outreach Shelter Network are designed with the difficulties of transitioning in mind.
Stevie, much like Karen, suffered at the hands of an avoidable problem. Today, Karen Addato works tirelessly to create compassionate, collaborative, and technologically innovative solutions to homelessness.