Josh Faulkenbery’s lung has collapsed 10 times in the last seven years.
“Seven times on the right side and three on the left,” his wife Jessi Faulkenbery said.
Back in October, he had surgery to correct the issue, but he has been out of work for months in recovery. With three children under the age of 10, things have been a struggle for the family.
“We all realized this wasn’t a two- or three-day event,” said Glenda Voigt, Jessi Faulkenbery’s grandmother. “It was going to have a profound impact on Josh, Jessica and their three children for a long time.”
So Voigt’s husband Wayne, a quilter, had an idea.
He wanted to make a special quilt that could be offered in a fundraiser to help the Faulkenberys make it through until Josh returns to work.
“In a good year, a fundraiser with chicken bog plates and a live auction would have been a favorable idea,” Voigt said. “In a pandemic, it didn’t seem feasible to do an in-person event. After giving some prayerful consideration to the options, I decided on calling Wayne’s contribution an ‘opportunity quilt’ – a way for us to help that would also give others an opportunity to contribute.”
For a $5 donation, people can receive a ticket for a chance to win this special quilt. The drawing will be held on Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. at Maple Baptist Church in Conway.
As someone who regularly held a job that includes hard labor, Josh Faulkenbery’s medical troubles affected the family’s income, especially since they had also made the decision that his wife would stay home with the children, 10-year-old Joshua, 6-year-old Jesse, and 6-month-old Jersey.
“It’s definitely been a long road,” Jessi Faulkenbery said. “The first time it happened was in 2013. … We’re hoping that this never happens again.”
Her husband’s surgery in October removed a piece of the top of his lung, and the next day the bottom part of the lung collapsed.
Thankfully it was remedied with an extra chest tube to help inflate the lung, but he still spent 14 days in the hospital.
Studying to be a teacher, Jessi Faulkenbery is saddled with helping her two older children with their hybrid schedule schoolwork, taking care of an infant, taking care of her husband, and finding time to do her own classwork, too.
“It’s definitely been a task here lately to keep up with their work and keep up with mine,” she said. “It’s definitely been a little rough, but God’s pulling us through.I wasn’t able to go back to work, I had to be home with them. Then this happens and we’re both stuck not being able to work.”
She said she is grateful for loved ones lending a hand where they can.
“We’ve been blessed with family and friends trying to do anything and everything they could,” she said.
It’s hard keeping Josh Faulkenbery away from his hobbies, she said, but some of his tinkering has been able to get them some income during this rough patch as he has begun to feel stronger.
While they are continuing to be cautious due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said both she and Josh had the virus back in June while she was still pregnant with their youngest.
“He wears an N95 [mask] when we go out,” she said. “We try not to completely limit our lives … I am tired of stressing about it, but at the same time the last thing we want is for him to get it again and have it be much worse.”
On Feb. 2, Josh Faulkenbery goes back to his pulmonologist. They hope he will be cleared to go back to work, but his wife said it’s unclear what type of work he will be allowed to do.
She said they are both thankful for what Maple Baptist Church and Pastor Gary Reeves have done for their family.
Glenda Voigt currently resides in Texas, but hails from Conway and was a member of Maple Baptist for several years before moving.
“In my heart it’s still my ‘home’ church,” Glenda Voigt said. “Pastor Gary [Reeves] got on board immediately,”
Reeves said he was moved to lend a hand.
“They were a family in need … two people that were on the way up, both working, both contributing as a citizen,” Reeves said. “I felt we needed to step in and help.”
To purchase a fundraiser ticket to help the Faulkenberys and have a chance to win the opportunity quilt, there are a number of ways to obtain a ticket and donate.
Helen Stephens at Curtains N Things at 1014 Third Avenue in Conway will have tickets available for purchase and pickup at her store, and Voigt will accept donations via her Venmo account @Glenda-Voigt-2. Those interested in helping can also call Maple Baptist Church at 843-365-2627.