I am in desperate need of a car in order to continue my education and take care of my mental health.
This past September I moved to Haliburton, ON to attend Fleming College for Visual & Creative Arts. Just me and my kitty, we've relocated 3 hours from home to a town of less than 6000 people (I'm told it's more like 1500 in the winter months). While the town has all of the bare essentials, not everything is here. My bank doesn't even have a branch here, just a little ATM machine hidden away beside the pet store.
Living in town has been convienient for the most part, the local Foodland being a mere three minute walk from my apartment. However, this comes with disadvantages. My school is approximately 5km away, which I realize doesn't sound like much, but it isn't a straightforward path. My daily walk to school includes treking through a park, along the shoulder of the road, across a bridge, and through a small length of forest- totalling in about 30 minutes at a quick pace.
To add to this, I would estimate 75% of that journey does not include sidewalks, so I'm forced to walk on the shoulder of the main road- Highway 21. And now, with the added snow, my original route across the bridge has been blocked by huge piles of snow. This has started forcing me to use the other side, ultimately leading to a mad sprint across said highway to continue my path (while silently praying I don't slip and fall in the middle of the road).
Because this town is so small, we have no garbage pickup. Some landlords will collect garbage for their tennants, however mine is not one of those. The landfill is past my school, in the forest, up a precarious hill. Walking there is next to impossible, especially while toting bags of trash (adding to that the threat of the bears that roam the area to dine at the dump). In order to get my garbage and recycling out of my apartment and to the landfill, I'm forced to take a taxi cab. The trip there and back takes well under 20 minutes, but costs $15.
Being a broke student, this is obviously a huge hit, as garbage tends to build up faster than you ever expect it to. This leads me to double or triple bag my refuse, and stash it in a cupboard in my kitchen until I've got enough to justify the trip. I simply can't afford to pay to get to the dump every time I have one or two bags, it's impractical and far too expensive.
The last issue at hand is my own health, both physically and mentally. My family doctor is in Mississauga, 3 hours away. There is a hospital in town, but again- is very difficult to walk to. My school does have a counsellor, but she only visits our campus once a week and has a limited amount of room to see people each time. I've been given a reference to the closest mental health facility in order to get set up with a regular therapist- but it's in Minden (the next town over) 25km away. Obviously, I can't afford to take a cab there, and there is no form of public transportation in the Haliburton Highlands.
Every time I need to change my medication, or have an issue, I have to ask my family to make the drive out here to pick me up. That's a total of 12 hours of driving for my parents, just for me to see a doctor for 15 minutes. There is a bus ONCE per day to Toronto, which leaves at 6:30am from a local gas station. It's $50 each way and only gets me to Toronto, adding an additional almost $10 for the GO Train to Mississauga.
I'm terrified of having an emergency, and no way to get around. While there are cabs, they are quite expensive as there's only one cab company for the entire Highlands area. If something happens at home, or god forbid my cat needs to go to the vet (which is not in town), I have no way of quickly reacting. I am trapped by the physical limitations of my body, having only my two feet or bicycle (rendered useless by the snow) through which to travel. I am left to hope for the kindness of my classmates with cars in bad weather, but have no reliable method of transportation as none of them live near me.
A car would be an absolute blessing in my life. While I adore my new community, this feeling of being trapped is daunting and anxiety enducing. I hate that I can't pop down to Mississauga for a casual visit with my family. I'm frustrated that I physically can't access the mental health services I need- they have called and left me voicemail to set up an appointment, but I can't even book one without figuring out a date that would be convienient for my mother to drive the 3 hours each way just for me to talk to someone for an hour.
I don't need anything special, fancy, or new. This money would be just enough to find a half-decent used car that could get me through the next few years of my education. It would grant me more time to sleep, access to the care I need, and reduce the amount of stress in my life. Going to school 9-4, Monday-Friday is already exhausting in itself. If I could rid myself of the additional 10km journey per day, I would have more energy to focus on my studies. A car would give me the ability to say yes to opportunities that come my way- from art fairs to exhibitions, right now I have no way of getting the exposure that is essential to an emerging artist.
No one takes to charity easily, and this is an incredibly difficult thing for me to ask. But, as it is the "season of giving", I thought I might try to end this year on a positive note. 2017 has been one of the worst of my life, and just for once it would be nice to win.
- Paul Fournier
- Pearce Thomas
- Tracey Johanson
- Avery Chakravarty
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