Friends step up to help Flees with funeral costs

You can donate to the Ashley Flees fundraiser for her mom's funeral on the Give Forward website.

I don't know what to do, I am lost," said Ashley Flees.

An unmarked grave at Linwood Cemetery in Traverse City is the final resting place for Ashley Flees' mother Katherine Johnson who passed away unexpectedly July 6, 2013.

"I just hit the floor and started crying, I just didn't even know what to think, what to do," said Ashley.

Giving her mother a proper burial is something that almost wasn't possible for Ashley.

"I knew there was nobody else to step up and take care of what needed to be taken care of," said Ashley.

Peace is something Ashley hasn't had since her mom died. She was studying abroad in Brazil when she got the call.

Now working to finish her liberal arts degree through the University Center at Northwestern Michigan College, Ashley is also now taking care of her younger brother who still lived with their mom before she died.

"I can't ask him to stay in the apartment, he watched his mother die there," said Ashley about her younger brother.

She said she is the only one financially responsible for giving her mom a proper burial without help from her family.

Ashley said the bare minimum funeral and burial costs of $7,000 are something she doesn't have and she may have to take out a loan.

As lost as she may feel, Ashley has found comfort from friends who are stepping up on her behalf to raise money for the costs.

"There probably won't be money to purchase a headstone until they can get this paid off," said Elizabeth Stevens who started the fundraiser for Ashley.

Stevens is a Northwestern Michigan College employee and has known Ashley for years as a student and fellow employee.

"She never would have done this on her own she is not someone to ask for help or to beg," said Stevens of Ashley.

Right now they have a fundraiser on the

GiveForward website

and they are currently at 20% of their $7,000 goal.

A memorial fund has also been set up at First Community Bank.

"The love is greatly felt from many, many different angles," said Ashley.

If she can't raise enough money Ashley fears she'll be forced to put school on hold.

"When I was young nobody thought I could and my mother did, and I can, but it might be put to a stop," Ashley said of her schooling.

That is something her friends are trying to make sure doesn't happen.

Find more information about Ashley's fundraiser