News report

Homeless Sheboygan mom in a wheelchair can buy a house with GoFundMe

SHEBOYGAN – When Ashley Mckinnie created her GoFundMe for housing assistance and additional funds for herself and her daughter, she never expected to receive enough to buy a house.

Mckinnie, 29, is homeless, in a wheelchair and mother of a 3-year-old child. When faced with the possibility of being kicked out of the homeless shelter she was staying at, she turned to GoFundMe in hopes of being able to find, at the very least, a hotel for herself and her family. girl.

The Sheboygan Press published an article online Monday about his situation and his GoFundMe. The article appeared in the press on Tuesday.

Over the course of a day, Mckinnie’s GoFundMe grew from $146 in donations Monday morning to over $70,000 by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“Honestly, I look at the numbers and I’m like, ‘That’s almost seven years of my life,'” Mckinnie told The Sheboygan Press. “It’s life changing because now I can buy a mobile home and it will be a forever home. I feel relieved.”

More than 1,400 people flocked to the GoFundMe page after the article was published on Monday, and many heartfelt messages and donations were left.

“As a disabled mother myself who has experienced poverty and lived on SSDI with a child, you can and will achieve your dreams. I hope your little castle becomes your Fantasía,” Danelle Bliss wrote on GoFundMe alongside of his gift.

“We are praying for you both, not just for now but for your future beyond this stage of life,” wrote Daniel Brady.

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Just hours after the article was published detailing her fight, Mckinnie was contacted by a pastor from Ebenezer United Church of Christ to Sheboygan who helped find a hotel room for her and her daughter for the week.

The story received national attention, with calls and emails coming from across the country. One caller, Serge, from California, reached out to send his prayers and best wishes to Mckinnie and his daughter.

“I was homeless for three years due to a disability,” Serge told The Sheboygan Press. “There should be more awareness of situations like this.”

Mckinnie said she was beyond grateful for the kind words and donations she received in just one day.

“I’m so grateful for the donations because I know I’ll never have to worry again,” Mckinnie said.

Mckinnie said her life wasn’t always difficult. Prior to her injury, she lived in Milwaukee, where she had a good job and an apartment.

But in 2016, when she was 24, Mckinnie became extremely depressed. Without family, friends, or even a safe space to turn to, the situation only got worse.

“In June 2016, I think I finally broke up,” Mckinnie said. “I went to the 35th Street Bridge in Milwaukee and stood there for a while. I was in pain…and just jumped off.”

Mckinnie survived the attempt, but suffered a permanent spinal cord injury, requiring him to be in a wheelchair.

“Everyone thought when I talked about depression that I was looking for attention, until it happened,” Mckinnie said. “The doctor said I should have died.”

She admits she was still battling depression even after her attempt.

“Depression is no joke. When you feel it, you know you have it,” Mckinnie said.

After his injury, Mckinnie was unable to work and needed help with daily activities. She received help from guards and people who could take her in for years.

Unemployed, she lost her apartment and had no choice but to stay in motels or with anyone who could put her up even for short periods.

Just before coming to Sheboygan in December 2021, she was staying with a friend who kicked her out.

“I stayed in a hotel because I was kicked out by someone else I was staying with,” Mckinnie said. “My aunt took me to my cousin and I stayed for three days, but they told me I couldn’t stay there.”

She called her social worker, who found availability for her in Sheboygan. Her choices were to either stay in Milwaukee on the streets with her daughter or move to Sheboygan and stay in one of the city’s shelters.

On December 15, Mckinnie came to Sheboygan and was placed in a shelter with her daughter. It was the same day she created her GoFundMe.

Mckinnie said she tried to find a home for herself and her daughter, but her low income and bad credit made it difficult.

“Most places want 2.5 times the rent, and that disqualifies me from a lot of places,” Mckinnie said. “Before my injury, when I was younger, I messed up my credit because of student loans. Any place I called, if they accepted my bad credit, they wouldn’t accept my income. “

Mckinnie said she earns $1,200 a month from her disability income and $200 goes specifically to funds for her daughter.

“Twelve cents a month just isn’t enough for a kid,” Mckinnie said.

She said she had called shelters that accommodate people with disabilities, but they did not allow children.

Ashley Lagoo-Mckinnie and her daughter, Lyanna Brown-Lagoo, sit on the corner near the Above and Beyond Children's Museum, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Sheboygan, Wis.  Ashley, who uses a wheelchair, and her young daughter live in a shelter in Sheboygan.  The refuge makes everyone leave in the morning and does not return until the end of the afternoon, whatever the temperature outside.

With the amount of donations she and her daughter have received, Mckinnie said she plans to purchase a wheelchair-accessible mobile home in Sheboygan.

“The pastor who helped me get into the motel for the week is taking me to see a mobile home today,” Mckinnie wrote in an update on his GoFundMe on Tuesday. “I have received many suggestions about buying a house or a mobile home. I will contact a real estate agent as many of you have suggested and I will pray that through all the generous people here, may I get a home that will stay with us forever. I appreciate you guys so much.

She is enrolling her daughter in a school program in the area and has no intention of leaving Sheboygan once she is settled.

She says that once she moves in and enrolls her daughter in school, she plans to find a job at an employment center that allows people with disabilities to work at their own pace so she can maintain a job. steady income.

“I want to thank everyone who donated because they are truly paving the way for me to give my daughter a better life,” Mckinnie said.

Mckinnie can’t take physical donations at this time because she doesn’t have a permanent address, but she says she’ll notify interested people through her GoFundMe page once she’s moved.

For those wishing to donate to Mckinnie and her daughter, visit her GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/125dda7e.

Contact Jelissa Burns at 920-226-4241 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @burns_jelissa or on Instagram at burns_jelissa.