Fundraiser set for Saturday
It was a cold, dark early December morning when Josh Barker’s already-changing life took yet another wild turn.
Barker had left his Yuma home in the pre-dawn darkness of December 2, headed to work at M & M Transport in Eckley, for whom he drives a semi. He was taking the back route, County Road 39, from Yuma to Eckley. The road curves a few miles west of Eckley and heads south toward New Life Christian Church.
Barker crested a hill in his sports coupe just as a pickup headed the other way did the same. He moved over to avoid the pickup, his back tire got sucked into the soft dirt of the ditch. He lost control of the vehicle, which went into the other ditch, rolled two or three times before coming to a rest on its passenger side.
Barker admits he was not wearing his seat belt, and his forehead hit the crushed-in windshield. He fractured the C6 and C7 vertebraes in his neck, and the disk in between was shattered.
“I’m fortunate to be walking around,” he said earlier this week.
He underwent surgery at Swedish Medical the next day, and was told two days later he was doing well enough to go home.
However, he has not been able to return to work, and will not be able to until at least March 1, when he goes to visit his surgeon again.
Even then, he will not be able to jump back in full-time as he will still have to undergo extensive physical therapy.
Saturday, February 2, will be two months since the accident. That’s a lot of time without earning income — a situation made more acute by the fact he and his wife Tammy have three young children, Sage, 14, Miles, 12, and Allorah, who turns 4 years old in February.
Saturday, February 2, also will be when a soup supper and auction fundraiser will be held at the Nazarene Family Center near the intersection of County Road 39 and Detroit Ave. in Yuma. The meal will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Special music and testimonies begin at 5:30, and the auction starts at 6:30.
A long list of auction items have been donated, including smoked brisket, a handmade quilt, an antique victor phonograph, handmade wooden art, a chandelier, carpet cleaning, chiropractic treatments, creative memories, Princess House cookware, metal art work, Norwex, toys, a tool set, a case of oil, Precious Moments items, decorative items, greenhouse certificates, beauty shop certificates, Valentine basket, a 100-foot garden hose and more.
Barker said he and his family have received strong support from the congregations at New Life Christian and Yuma Christian Church.
“My church has been really taking care of that (financial) stress for me,” he said.
However, that help, and the family’s savings, are getting to the point of running out, thus volunteers organizing Saturday’s fundraiser to help with expenses.
“A couple of years ago when I was the person I used to be, this would have run my family through the ringer,” Barker said. “I have been blessed with how my life has changed. I get to see how this community comes together to help somebody.”
Barker used to lead a bit rougher life. It culminated with him shooting a man who was staying in his home with he and his family in August 2016. That led him to being in jail for one year, and then two years of work release.
A self-improvement course offered at the Yuma County Jail while incarcerated there, focused on making right choices, helped turn him around, and set him on a better path for him and his family.
In fact, Barker now does jail ministry, and being out of work because of his accident has allowed more time on that calling.
“I’ve really been able to put my focus there,” he said. “It’s been a blessing.”
However, there are still bills to be paid and a family to feed, including medical bills, so get on out to the Nazarene Family Center on Saturday. If you cannot attend but still want make a donation, call Cheryl at 630-2989, Treia at 630-4676, or Alice at 630-3477.