Doing unto others

HOUGHTON – Don’t Do It Yourself is still less than a year old, but the local nonprofit is wasting no time in its efforts to help families in need of medical care. The group has already helped about 15 families with food, gasoline and lodging to help them travel to far-away hospitals to deal with medical crises.

Saturday, their Food & Folk Fest fundraiser packed the Dee Stadium ballroom in Houghton as they worked to continue their mission of mercy. The event featured around 20 vendors, as well as back-to-back musical acts from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and plenty of food donated by local chefs and bakeries.

“It’s lot of fun for a lot of different people,” said Chassell’s Rich Pethel, who’d rented a booth to sell his chain-saw carvings. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

Pethel said quite a few people had expressed interest in his wares and credited the musicians with bringing out the crowd.

Musical acts included Tom Katalin, Adreanne Hillman, Ron Lahti and The Polka Kings.

D.D.I.Y. board Vice President Steve Erickson said he was impressed with the turnout for a first-time event.

Erickson said he got involved with D.D.I.Y. after noticing the success of other local medical fundraisers, then realizing that money was generally sent out of town to national organizations.

“We want to bring money into our area, and help people in the community,” he said.

Board president Kristina Coon said D.D.I.Y. doesn’t adhere to any set income requirements, as medical emergencies can quickly drain any family’s resources.

“We try to help everyone regardless of their income level,” she said, noting that D.D.I.Y.’s mission is to help with expenses, not actual medical bills. The organization does need a doctor’s letter showing medical need, however.

Coon thanked the many local families and businesses that have donated to the cause, as well as the bands, cooks and others who helped with Saturday’s event. But even with a successful event, she said the need would probably quickly outstrip donations.

“The requests are numerous, and we need money coming in,” she said.

While money is the main need, Erickson said D.D.I.Y. can also use volunteers to help with events and fundraising. He credited several Michigan Technological University sororities with helping out, and noted the organization is currently trying to fill one vacancy on its board.

“We’re hoping to fill it with someone with a legal background,” Coon said.

For many people at the fest, the $3 entry fee was well worth the entertainment, with no charitable thoughts required.

Kalin Ponnikas, 9, of Dollar Bay, said her favorite part of the fair was the music. She also liked the frames, scents and other items at Beth Anderson’s Perfectly Posh booth.

Laura Nakkula and Sue Wiles, who met at the fest and found they had overseas travel experiences in common, both said they were impressed with the first-time event and hoped to return next year.

“I was surprised at how many crafters,” she said. “I came to listen to the music.”

If you’d like to donate to D.D.I.Y. or request help, the mailing address is PO Box 426, Hancock, MI 49930. If you have questions, call 370-4922.