Paying it forward

Businesswoman holds benefit to aid those affected by fire

BALDWIN — Following the fire which destroyed People's Choice Auto Repair in Webber Township, many Lake County residents are banding together to help those harmed by the fire.

One of the most prominent efforts is being organized by Rhonda Bueter, the owner of Cloud 9 Cabins in Baldwin. She is putting together a benefit to aid the Coleman family, the owners of People's Choice Auto Repair, and Tyler Liske, the employee hurt in the blaze.

"They're good people and they're members of our community," said Bueter. "If everybody can do a little, it will be a big thing in the end."

The benefit will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 at AMVETs Post No. 1988. It will consist of a spaghetti dinner, both a live and silent auction and drawings for items donated from local businesses such as Barski's, Baldwin Lumber and the Verizon Store in Lincoln. Donations also will be collected at the door for those who wish to make other contributions.

The funds raised will be equally split between the Coleman family and the family of Liske. Bueter doesn't know Liske or his family, but wishes them the best in this trying time. However, she is old friends with the Mike and Janice Coleman, and knew their family even before moving to this area.

"They're honest, hardworking, great neighbors," remarked Bueter. "They are part of our community. Mike is the kind of guy who will fix your car and let you pay later because he knows people need to be able to get to work to get paid. Who does that anymore?"

Bueter was inspired by the help she received after moving to the Lake County area. Shortly after opening Cloud 9, Bueter's husband was in a snowmobiling accident and was left in a coma for three years. In addition to the emotional trauma, Bueter was left in an uncertain financial situation. Fortunately, many of her new neighbors came to her assistance, including the Coleman family.

The fire was begun when Liske was emptying oil into a burn-off unit used for heating. The oil ignited and left Liske with burns on 25 percent of his body while the entire business was soon engulfed in flames. Both families are still dealing with the upheaval of such a tragedy and the monetary hardships which will soon follow. Bueter hopes this benefit will alleviate some of the challenges both families are going through.

"We all need help sometimes," said Bueter. "For the Colemans and Liskes that time is now."

Those who want more information, wish to volunteer or donate money ahead of time can call Cloud 9 at (231) 745-3070.