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No longer experiencing homelessness, man gives back to Rochester shelter

A week after leaving the Landing shelter in Rochester, Steven Wallace returned with bags of groceries; then he kept coming back with more.

Steven Wallace 01.JPG
Steven Wallace, of St. Charles, pictured Aug. 1, 2021, was homeless. After moving back in with family, he went to the Landing MN, the shelter that helped him, and donated more than $700 worth of items. (John Molseed / Post Bulletin)
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — When Steven Wallace didn’t have a place to stay, he landed at the Landing MN.

Last week, after moving back in with family in St. Charles, Minnesota, Wallace returned with bags of groceries to the former fire station that now houses the day center for people facing homelessness.

The next day, Wallace brought more food along with clothes. The day after that, he brought other essential items such as toiletries, pillowcases and more food.

Over three consecutive days, Wallace donated more than $700 worth of items to the day shelter.

Once he knew he had a home again, he dug into some money he had set aside and decided to donate back to the center.

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“I knew I was going back to my home and I have everything I need there,” Wallace said. “Something in my head just told me to give to the Landing.”

After his first delivery, a staff member took Wallace downstairs to unload the food.

“The shelves were almost all empty,” he said.

A few hundred dollars in savings wouldn’t have taken him very far at the time he was experiencing homelessness, he said.

“I suppose I could have spent it on a hotel,” he said. “How long could I stay? A week?”

That money went further at the landing.

“This helped people and might even have been life-changing,” Wallace said. “I know it was to me.”

He said he wants to continue to help the Landing help people who are unhoused.

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Dan Fifield, co-founder of the Landing, said it’s not uncommon for former and current clients to give back.

“We’ve had that happen more often than not,” he said. “Even people who are still staying with us, if they get a stimulus check or a temporary job, they give back.”

Fifield said that generosity means to him the help the Landing offers overshadows the bad spot a person finds themselves in when not having a place to stay of their own.

“We try to make it so it’s not a horrible situation,” he said. “We try to focus on what good is going to come through this.”

Wallace spent most of July at the Landing. He said that his first week there, he didn’t speak to anyone.

“I just kind of isolated myself,” he said, adding he has social anxiety issues.

Wallace recalls one client named Michael continued to try to get Wallace to talk. He eventually bonded with a man named Eugene. On one of his trips, he gave Eugene a backpack full of items he knew Eugene could use.

“He held his tears pretty well,” Wallace said.

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Wallace said his experience opened his eyes to the size of the homeless population in the area.

“It’s something I don’t ever want to have to go through again,” he said. “This is something we need as a community.”

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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