Guests at Sunday’s flood benefit in New Munster had an opportunity to bid on a variety of items donated by area businesses (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Bella Vita benefit raised thousands

By Gail Peckler-Dziki
Correspondent

More than 500 people attended the Western Kenosha a County Flood Victims Fundraiser last Sunday at the Bella Vita banquet hall.

The two organizers, Brian Boeckenstedt and Paul DeLuisa, stayed busy the following day when they were adding up the generosity of residents in attendance.

DeLuisa, who owns of Luisa’s Italian Restaurant, also suffered losses in the July flooding events.

Despite his own problems, DeLuisa was concerned for his neighbors.

“This was the worst flood I’ve seen, and I’ve been in business for 21 years. Many folks who were hit had never been flooded before and didn’t have flood insurance,” DeLuisa said.

The fundraiser started at noon and ran until 5 p.m.

Proceeds from the event plan to get distributed to The Sharing Center of Trevor, the organization responsible for helping residents affected by the flooding events.

Sharing Center Executive Director Sharon Pomaville came away pleased with the community turnout.

“It was heartwarming to see the community out in such numbers to help others,” Pomaville said.

Additionally, area businesses contributed to the cause, Cindy Nicoletti of Celebrate our Town reported. She contacted 75 business owners her company serves.

“Everyone I contacted donated something to the raffle,” Nicoletti said. “We have some awesome business owners.”

Other contributors to the benefit included Jennifer Collison and Ray Garreau of the Kenosha County Tavern League along with Jessica Olson and Rachelyn Hadid.

Pomaville, who was at the event, said it could take years to rebuild some areas.

“We are looking at a two-year build-out. Kenosha County put in the paperwork to ask FEMA for a declaration of disaster about two weeks ago,” Pomaville said.

Last week, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency surveyed the flood-damaged areas of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

Pomaville said it could take months to receive a response from the federal agency.

“At that point we will have a committee set and an application process in place,” Pomaville said.

“If there is a disaster declaration,” she continued, “then we know that more money will be coming into the area and that will effect fund distribution.”

Besides speaking to media outlets present, Pomaville also addressed those in the audience, along with Salem Lakes Village Trustee Ted Kmiec and State Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R – Salem Lakes). Allen Dunski, of Salem, also delivered an address.

Dunski organized teams of volunteers that pumped water out of affected homes. When the water was pumped out, the teams sanitized the homes and then removed large water-soaked items like couches and large appliances.

Through Dunski’s coordinated efforts, hundreds of volunteers came in back-to-back weekends.

Boeckenstedt, whose wife and business partner Heather cooked spaghetti for the event, expressed gratitude towards the community for pitching in.

“I am impressed with the generosity of everyone who came. Some of the businesses were very generous. We want to thank everyone who helped organize the event, who donated to the event and came to the event,” he said.

 
 

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