“I FEEL LIKE I can breathe again.”
That’s stroke victim Anna Dravland reflecting on a momentous weekend for her.
The 35-year-old NMU grad, after a year of struggling with her health and finding herself unable to hold a job, had run out of money. She’d given notice to her landlord and was facing the threat of her gas being turned off.
She found herself sobbing at times. She didn’t know where to turn.
So she turned to her community: Marquette. A friend opened up a gofundme site for her. Anna told her story–without self-pity, just plain honesty–to WOTS. We posted her story Saturday morning. Her story was reposted dozens of times on Facebook. By the end of the day, she had raised more than $10,000.
At last count, it was up above $11,000. More than 100 people had donated their money to a woman who had gotten a rotten break in life and desperately needed help.
“I was shocked. I was grateful,” she tells you. “This is life-sustaining! This means I can pay my bills, I can be stable for six months, maybe more.”
She becomes almost speechless when she tries to explain her gratitude to those who have helped her.
Because this is much more than a story about the power of social media. It’s a story about a community of people who care. They’re people who, as one contributor put it, understand that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
They’ve given money, and they’ve also offered legal help as Anna continues her frustrating pursuit of disability benefits, and a few have even offered up a room for her to stay.
But for now she’s staying where she is, with the hope that she might be accepted into Grandview Marquette, the apartment complex that offers subsidized housing.
Anna still struggles every day with fatigue, her vision, and her ability to think, remember and organize, but she’s convinced she’ll get better, little by little. She’s an optimist by nature.
“And when I am better and feel stable again,” she says, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to advocate and fight for those who are facing the same problems that I have. But the difference is, they don’t have the love that I’ve gotten from all these people that have helped me…”
And here she pauses, a sob caught in her throat. She’s speechless again.
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