Helping a family in need

By Jacy Glazier

The Skellenger family talks about its appreciation to the folks of Custer for organizing and participating in last Saturday evening’s benefit auction at the Buglin’ Bull. Pictured from left are Kristie Skellenger, Andreas Underwood and Mcenna Griffin.

Dr. Joy Falkenburg knew she couldn’t just stand by the night a family’s home burned down in Custer.
“The night the fire occurred, the family came into the emergency room with just the pajamas on their bodies and it was 10 below outside,” said Dr. Falkenburg. “Honestly, I didn’t even think about it; these are people I know. She works here in Custer, her kids are in my kid’s classes and I just knew she needed some stuff so I thought let’s get them a hotel room and took them there.”
Dr. Falkenburg’s act of generosity spread as her friend, who was the owner of the hotel, decided to provide the family with a few free nights, and a Facebook plea for clothes and household items led to the Custer High School wrestling team’s involvement.
“We had so much stuff that we had to move it to a storage unit which was also donated to the family. What I did was very minimal and I have to give kudos to the wrestling team and especially Jared Webster, Skylair Jaure and Heather Grace because they just took over,” she said.
Dr. Falkenburg was on call at the hospital the weekend of the fire and she said the best part was watching the community come together to support a family in need.
“Imagine being in a community and you are on call at the ER and every time you walk in and out of those doors you see a community member coming to bring stuff for these kids. I think that is very cool and it is exactly why I live here,” Dr. Falkenburg said.
Less than 24 hours after the fire, the people of Custer had a community fundraiser set up and a GoFundMe page up and running. Dr. Falkenburg said she is intrigued by the fact you can take someone’s negative memory and change it a little bit with positive actions.
“Mom obviously had every concern in the world — she has to figure out how to feed her kids and provide shelter with no resources. The kids are at an age level where they’re kind of frightened but if you replace it with a really positive memory then what they experience will actually go out in the world and impact that whole experience and actually catapult a child to the next level of success,” she said.
Dr. Falkenburg’s decision to help the Skellenger family that night started a chain reaction that we often see in small towns like Custer — which is humans showing other humans love and compassion in a time of need.
“Generosity is contagious and it’s one of those situations, call it God, call it karma, call it universal energy, call it whatever you want — I choose to call it God, but you are called to be a certain person to other people,” Dr. Falkenburg said. “I think the family will be okay and I think the kids will remember how it happened and pay it forward for years to come.”