Elaine and the Lincoln Culver's are consistently involved with
donating 10 percent of the store's revenue during specific periods
of the eatery's day. If it seems to patrons that this is a frequent
event at the Culver's, they would be right because the store is
involved with helping a great many special causes in our community.
In the case of Relay for Life and the American Red Cross, Culver's
devotes an entire day each month to their fundraising needs. Many
businesses would consider that enough community involvement, but not
Aue. Her store also has special hours once a month for Habitat for
Humanity and the Boy Scouts. And she says she also offers all the
local schools and church youth groups a day each month to help
collect funds for their causes.
Aue is an owner of the Lincoln Culver's, along with her brother
Douglas, who actually was the force behind Elaine opening this local
food establishment. Elaine was a gas pipe fitter for AmerenCILCO,
but she knew the hard labor wasn't going to be easy in later years.
When she contracted skin cancer from being outdoors so much, she
knew she needed another occupation.
When her oldest brother approached her about being partners in a
Culver's, Elaine knew little if anything about the franchise. That
changed when she had a chance to visit with Craig Culver. "I saw
right away how family-oriented he was, and I just knew right then I
wanted to be involved with Culver's," Aue said.
On March 26, 2007, the Culver's opened their doors to the
community, and they have been opening their hearts and their cash
register to causes ever since.
Elaine is married to Steve Aue, a letter carrier who is known to
almost everyone in town. Before Elaine arrived at the store, Steve
gave some thoughts on his wife. "She has a heart of gold, that's for
sure. She always sees the good in people," he said. "She is always
willing to give people a chance."
Elaine laughed when she arrived and explained that it was she who
got Steve his job with the U.S. Postal Service. "Steve was in
construction," she said. "I told him I wouldn't marry him unless he
got a steady job, so he went to work for the post office." Steve
took that job and life recommendation seriously, and the couple has
raised two children, Kristan, who is 21, and Nathan, 19.
Elaine comes by her involvement in causes genetically as well as
by observation as a youth. Her parents are Wally and Tonita
Reifsteck, and according to Aue, "they were always doing something
to help. They were workaholics. They were always doing something for
On Saturday, Aue and Culver's are doing something special even by
the store's high standards of community help. All day, from open to
close, 25 percent of the store's sales will go to a fund for the Gee
family. The fund will be used to defray funeral expenses incurred in
the tragedy as well as help with medical expenses relating to the
care of 3-year-old Tabitha Gee, who is under hospital care.
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Aue says the Methodist churches in Beason and Lincoln are handling the
fundraiser, but it was she who made the generous offer.
Dayle Badman, the
minister at the Beason United Methodist Church, says Aue called her
in regard to this special fundraiser. Badman says Aue checked with
corporate and they approved the entire day at 25 percent of sales to
go to the fund for the Gee family.
"I was flabbergasted at her generosity when she asked me if we
would like to do this," Badman said. "I'm just thrilled at her
generosity to have this all day. Hopefully we will have a good
The fund is being administered through the larger First United
Methodist Church of Lincoln, and that church's youth group will help
work tables on Saturday.
Pastor Mark Kaley at First United Methodist in Lincoln also is inspired by Aue's gesture. "The fund is
going very well," he said. "What Culver's is doing is a really
generous offer. And we are very grateful."
Elaine explained that the entire Gee family tragedy has troubled
her from day one, and she felt compelled to try to do something to
help. Getting emotional, Elaine talked about how proud she is of her
staff. "We put up a volunteer sign-up sheet for any employees that
wanted to help this coming Saturday," she said. "Not only did
several employees sign up who were off that day, but others who will
be on duty that day have volunteered to work off the clock so that
the fund can generate more revenue. A lot of these employees are
high school kids."
Aue has a strong relationship with her employees, and that can be
seen every day at the store. Of the 30 employed, Aue proudly says
that seven of them have been with the store from day one: an unusual
if not unheard of percentage in the industry.
Fanning her eyes after talking about how proud she is of her
staff, Aue said that she isn't sure why, but although she is much
shyer than her parents, she enjoys meeting people one on one. "I
enjoy waiting on people," she said. "I enjoy making people feel
It is because Elaine Aue and the Lincoln Culver's have made us
feel good, as well as proud to have her in our community, that we
make her and the store this week's Personality of the Week.