Family tragedy brings community together

PHOTOS BY SHELBY WOLFE/Newport News Times | Above: Selina John, a Siletz Community Health Clinic worker, volunteers in the kitchen during a Taco Fundraiser held at the Siletz Tribal Community Center for the family of Brynden Daniel, a 15-month-old tribal member who drowned on November 3. Below: Brenda Brown and Judy Imbler, Siletz Community Health Clinic workers, prepare tortillas during the Taco Fundraiser.

SILETZ — In the face of not one, but two great tragedies, a community came together to help a family through hardship.

On Nov. 3, 15-month-old Bryndyn Daniel drowned at a Toledo residence, in what the family explained was a horrific accident. His death came less than a month after the unexpected passing of his uncle.

After the Toledo Police Department posted a press release to Facebook, Carolyne Houck commented the following:

“This happened at my home and it was a very tragic accident. Please be respectful of the family during this time and refrain from judgement,” wrote Houck. “It is a very sad moment in our lives.

This is a time to pull together for a grieving family who is going through yet another tragic situation.”

The family released a statement this week, which included thanks to the many professional agencies, both law and medical, as well as individuals who have been directly involved in aiding the family.

“We, as a family, are absolutely devastated,” the statement read. “Not only by the loss of Brynden, but also his uncle Jesse who we lost just under a month earlier. We are very unsure how we as a family are to cope with these back-to-back losses of our beloved family, and how our lives will look from this point forward. We are so grateful and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the wonderful communities of Lincoln County during our time of mourning.”

One such community was in Siletz, from the health clinic. Facing the cost and the weight of one funeral is difficult; two can seem insurmountable. Knowing this was the case for the Daniel family, a group of staff from the Siletz Community Health Clinic decided to band together to help with the cost, and host a fundraiser selling tacos.

The announcement of the fundraiser stated that in the Siletz Tribe “what happens to one affects us all,” which was strongly reflected in the community’s response.

“It was amazing,” said Marci Muschamp, health director for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and a leader of the fundraising group. “People came from Newport, Toledo and, of course, Siletz. We were hoping to raise $1,200 and more than doubled it. The community really pulled together and supported this family during their time of need. We were amazed and so thankful.”

By the time the fundraiser had officially started, at 11 a.m. on Friday, they had received nearly 100 orders for pick-up or delivery. The orders continued to roll in steadily the entire day.

“We have no way of know how many tacos were sold because of the combined donations. One person paid  $100 for her $7 taco,” said Muschamp.

Though the kitchen stopped taking orders 45 minutes earlier than planned, volunteers had to work until almost 7 p.m. to fill all the orders they had. By the end of it all, over $3,000 had been raised.

“We would like to thank the community of Siletz and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians,” read the family’s statement. “All those who volunteered their time, labor, love, and support in organizing fundraisers and helping plan services for Brynden. It has taken an immense amount of stress off our shoulders. We appreciate every one of you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”

A memorial service was held for Bryndyn on Monday at the Siletz Tribal Community Center. Donations to the family can be made through Columbia Bank in Newport to the “Memorial fund for Brynden” or with Judith Imbler at the Siletz Community Health Clinic front desk. These sites will remain open for donations until the end of the month.

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