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Community comes together to help those displaced by fire

De Pere Structure Fire
Posted at 6:58 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 19:58:46-04

DE PERE, Wis. — The building that housed nearly 20 people and was a place people went to work every day is now a pile of debris, and the community is stepping up to help.

"It's still kind of surreal," said Paula Kiley, the owner of the Pilates Studio.

She had one of the many businesses in the building and had been there for 11 years.

At 5:30a.m., she got a text saying the building was on fire.

"Had no idea it was going to be to the ground," said Kiley.

She told us the biggest loss is losing a place she loves so much.

"I said to my husband last week I'm going to stay here until I no longer teach Pilates anymore because i just love this location," said Kiley.

But for people like Kiley and the other businesses and residents displaced, the community is stepping up, offering support and a place to go like The Connective, co-working environment for women business owners and aspiring leaders.

"Whoever was in the building who needs a space or a place to regroup to access WiFi to just have a place to work or rest, they're welcome to come to the connective," said Bridget O'Connor, the co-owner of The Connective.

She said they plan to be available for business and residents for as long as they need help.

Thanks to Luna Cafe next door, they even have free coffee available.

"At Luna, we're all about being a good neighbor and we try to reach out whenever there's a need no matter where it is," said Paul Olseky who works at Luna Cafe.

As for residents and businesses, there's still a lot of pain seeing the more than 100 year old building on the ground, but they have a strong community ready to help them get back on their feet.

"I'm sure I'll still be around. I don't give up that easily," said Kiley.