THREE OAKS — More than 20 unique works of art (in the form of chairs, tables, benches, a children’s tea party set, a plush vanity and more) found new homes at the June 26 Chair Affair “Art-Full” benefit for Neighbor by Neighbor.

Held in the spacious new 19 North upstairs event space upstairs at Froehlich’s Kitchen & Pantry in downtown Three Oaks, bidders could choose the silent treatment or the spirited competition of a live auction.

Linnea Berg (a member of the Neighbor by Neighbor Advisory Board) said the organization was started about two years ago through a grant from The Pokagon Fund (which remains the primary source of funding while Harbert Community Church currently serves as fiduciary manager for the program).

Neighbor by Neighbor links residents of Chikaming, New Buffalo and Three Oaks townships with resources and services to fill needs ranging from getting help with paying utilities or rent, finding food, getting information on services for the elderly or disabled, securing gas cards to get to work, learning about substance abuse programs and much more, This is accomplished through a full-time Resource and Referral Specialist (Stephanie Rutherford) who works one-on-one with clients to determine their needs before putting them in touch with the proper agencies/programs or giving them referrals.

Scheduled times to meet in person with Rutherford take place in libraries, coffee shops and churches also are part of the program.

To contact Neighbor by Neighbor call (269) 231-0648, log on to, or go to the nbynharborcountry Facebook page.

It was the second Chair Affair event, and the first for Rutherford (her predecessor, Megan Bolinder, attended the event and both were listed as Chair Affair artists).

“I’m just blown away by how the community has responded to supporting Neighbor by Neighbor and to helping out their neighbors through this program,” said Rutherford. “All of those chairs were donated by artists and local neighbors.”

Not only did chair artist Mick Lantis of New Buffalo bring two rustic white oak benches he crafted from a downed tree to the party, he also donated back his sizable 50/50 drawing winnings to Neighbor by Neighbor.

“I used a special process to make it look old,” he said of the recently built benches, adding that they look like they’re 50 years old.

Three Oaks artist Kim Pruitt created a Time-Out Chair (complete with a friendly red bird and a bag of lavender) intended to make time spent there more contemplative than a punishment.

“That’s really what a time out should be — to take the time to slow down,” she said.

Victoria Geigler’s Under the Sea vintage children’s folding chair ended up being the subject of a bidding war in the late-going of the live auction, with Allan Kayler of Lakeside leaving the building with it firmly in hand.

“I work in an antique mall and I got the chair donated,” Geigler said. “We live by the beach so I went with a beach theme.”

All of the Chair Affair entries got purchased either through silent or live auctions.

Frank Schmidt was guest auctioneer for the live portion of the Chair Affair (assisted by Bob Stine, Deborah Hall-Kayler and others).

“If you’re bidding on something make sure you hold your card up high. It’s a good thing that Bob’s here because he’s tall,” Berg said before the bidding began.

She is a member of the Neighbor by Neighbor Advisory Board along with Paula Durren, Peggy Lefebvre, Bob Stine, Leslie Woods and Rutherford.

Participating artists/woodworkers included: Elisha Beam, Julie Bender, Sue Polishuk, Linnea Berg, Megan Bolinder, Bob Bonarigo, Andrea Bonarigo, Paul Cromcheecke, Dana Davis, Mike Durren, Sarah Erickson, Victoria Geigler, Heather Hanson, Stephanie Rutherford, Kim Pruitt, Andy and Mary Brown, Mick Lantis, Jackie Tito, and Kim True.

Donors of chairs, stools, benches and the like were listed as Tom Burnison, Harbor Country Mission, Ben Parker, Sawyer Antique Mall, Shawnee Road Antiques, and Bob Stine. Other donations were made by Infusco Coffee Roasters; Nancy Westrand, Froehlich’s; Peggy Lefebvre, Linnea Berg, Frank Schmidt and Angela Reichert.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.