Homeless woman getting back on her feet
Fundraising campaign started for schooling costs
Muskoka's secret homelessness is a rural problem
HOME SWEET HOME. Lake Muskoka – the heart of cottage country, dripping affluence and home to Millionaire’s Row – is also host to the homeless and the fastest increasing incidents of social assistance needs in the province. Gravenhurst’s Roxane McDonald, whose home is her station wagon, hopes the trends will change despite austerity budgets. (Photo by Neil Etienne)
GRAVENHURST - With impending provincial social assistance budgetary cuts in the $21-million range, the winter snows on the way and a never-wavering sense of hope, Roxy McDonald is taking the bull by the horns.
The Gravenhurst born and raised single mother who has been surviving the past year living in her car is doing what she knows best: fundraising. She’s decided charity has to begin at home, even if she’s essentially homeless.
“I have kicked the bull because there is a big lack of services in Muskoka and I am hoping that in time, that my situation might lead to help for others, and maybe a shelter for families as I am not the only homeless person,” she said. “I truly enjoy helping people, but am not able to do as much as I could be due to my circumstances.”
“My dream is to make a difference in this world,” McDonald added.
McDonald has her eyes set on returning to school to get official accreditation as a fundraiser. It’s a job she’s held in the past and due to her experience she only needs six months to complete her degree, rather than the full two-year course. At 45 and on ODSP due to a degenerative knee condition that has knocked her off her feet, she intends to get back on them and is reaching out to her hometown to do so.
“I chose this way of fundraising because it shows that I am actually working toward a goal, and not just begging for money,” she explained. “Doing this campaign is practice for me in my upcoming career as a fundraiser. I have always said that I would rather do charity work as it is what makes me get up every day.”
Using the computer at either the library or local employment office, she has set up an online campaign through Indiegogo to help her raise funds for school. She is hoping to raise $15,000 by mid-November to help pay for tuition, finding temporary accommodation and hopefully for a laptop computer to help with her studies. She said it was a difficult choice to make, as she’d rather be helping other people in a similar situation, but added her circumstances need to be addressed first.
“Bad things can happen to good people and we all need help from time to time, and where better to turn than my own hometown,” she said.
Anyone who may be in similar situations should take control because little help may be forthcoming in the 2013 budgets, she added.
“My advice to anyone in this situation would be to keep your chin up, there are people out there that want to help but don’t know how. I always taught my kids that you don’t have to be rich to help someone, even giving a little can go a long way.”
If anyone would like more information or to support McDonald’s efforts, check out the website at www.indiegogo.com/projects/256666.