Baltimorean Offers Hope To Families Of Missing Children, Empowers Others To Rise Above Adversity
8/9/2019, 6 a.m.
Societal ills are both traumatizing and disappointing but individuals like Monique Smith serve as a reminder that Baltimore is home to a plethora of inspiring people who work to make the world a better place. Behind Smith’s infectious smile and contagious energy, her hope-filled story serves as a refreshing reminder that all missing children are not dead, and a devoted individual can make an impact, even in the midst of his or her own storm.
In her early twenties, Smith applied for a job, which required a background check. When the background check was returned as inconclusive, Smith provided documents, such as a birth certificate. The potential employer informed her that it was forged. Thereafter, an investigation was launched. A family member later agreed to a DNA test proving that the woman who raised Smith was not biologically related to her. To this day, the woman still refuses to talk to investigators.
Smith has a laser-focused mission to uncover her identity, the history of her existence, and find her family. Considered the longest living Jane Doe, known as “Monique,” she does not know her date of birth or her true identity. However, she refuses to give up trying to uncover any information or details to solve this mind-boggling mystery. She believes that her genesis began with some life-changing situation, such as child abduction or being bought as an infant, although the truth has not yet been uncovered.
For more than two decades, Smith has been trying to find out who she really is and where she was born. With documents on hand to prove her claim that the woman who raised her falsified records, Smith discovered that her identity was fictitious. Even though many years have passed, the mother of four is not giving up on finding answers to questions that are tied to her lineage.
“There is some pain in someone’s soul right now, because they’re like, ‘I know I had a sister. I know I had a little cousin,” Smith said, choking back tears in front of guests who showed up at Nordstrom in Annapolis on July 21, 2019. “What in the world happened?”
After a VIP reception, Smith discussed how she was able to overcome unique obstacles and ultimately became an author, community leader, and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of minority-owned RE Harrington Plumbing and Heating, Inc., an underground utilities construction company and a real estate investor. Smith is even the executive producer of a docu-series called “Longest Living Jane Doe,” which has lead her to navigate filmmaking and film festivals.
Despite Smith’s struggle to piece together details of her own life, she remains devoted to increasing awareness about missing children; keeping the topic of child abduction front and center; educating others about child abuse occurrences; and the prevention of human trafficking. Armed with her documentary and book called “I AM THE ANCESTOR” published in 2011, Smith has been telling her gut wrenching story hoping to draw attention and awareness to all missing persons, and their love ones who continue to search for them.
“My message is trying to tell the world that all missing children aren’t dead. We’re here. We’re searching on the opposite end,” Smith said. “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children didn’t come around until 1984. What happened to me probably happened to me back in 1965, ’66, or ’67, so I stand in front of you today, probably either 53, 52,54 (years old)—I don’t even know.”
Proceeds from her book; funds from speaking engagements, workshops that she facilitates; and sponsors who make contributions directly to the above listed organizations have resulted in Smith raising $60,000 for many charities and causes. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was the very first recipient of $5,000.00. Other recipients include: local institutions of higher learning, public schools and various other organizations. Smith has assisted Loving Arms, Inc. Street Outreach to jumpstart their Annual 5k Run/2K Walk for Homeless Youth.
“Per the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 23,500 runaways reported to the center in 2018, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking,” Smith said, explaining that child abduction and human trafficking is occurring in every community in our country. “This is yet another reason why I assist [others] during my personal search for my identity.”
Patty Lee, who founded Baltimore-based Angels of Addiction, says that Smith is an unsung hero who supports many organizations and promotes togetherness. Lee started her street outreach effort in memory of her son who died in 2002. She reaches out to drug addicts to help them to secure rehabilitation and treatment. Donations for individuals on the street range from clothing to shampoo. Lee explained that Smith donates items, volunteers, and connects her to helpful organizations.
“She’s (Monique’s) just been a light to the people in Baltimore,” Lee said, while commending Smith. “She helps a lot of organizations. It’s all about coming together for the greater good of Baltimore