Hope for the future

Monday, March 12, 2018

Main News Photo

Hans Madsen

The building on the southeast corner of First Avenue North and North 11th Street — just east of the Beacon of Hope Shelter — is currently empty.

It won’t be for long.

A donation from a former Beacon resident has allowed them to make the down payment to purchase it.

Executive Director Steve Roe said the money came from Rob Helgerson, who spent several years living at the shelter. Helgerson died in the summer of 2016.

“Rob came here four years ago,” Roe said. “Rob was a vet; he had cancer. He had been going through all kinds of treatments and he went into remission for awhile. He lived with us for two years.”

During his stay, Beacon staff were able to help Helgerson get his Social Security disability and other benefits and eventually, an apartment.

“Rob eventually moved out,” Roe said. “Even after he moved, he was part of the mission.”

During the time that Roe knew him, Helgerson always talked about an ongoing lawsuit.

“It had something to do with the chemicals he was exposed to,” Roe said. “He was fairly vague about it. He said that when he got his settlement, he wanted to give back to the Beacon.”

Roe has heard many similar stories.

“I never really believed this,” he said. “I did hook him up with an attorney though. You just never know what to believe and what not to believe.”

Helgerson’s cancer eventually returned.

“We watched how he was deteriorating,” Roe said.

He eventually, as he was in the last stages of his life, showed Roe the paperwork involved with the lawsuit.

Helgerson died with Roe and Beacon chaplain Eric Howard by his side.

“Even to the last day,” Roe said. “He would say ‘Boss, tomorrow you’re gonna take me home.’ He was such a fighter.”

Helgerson donated $30,000 from his settlement money to the Beacon.

“Rob wanted it used to help people,” Roe said. “He didn’t want it used for bills.”

The new building that the donation helped pay for will be used for several different things.

“We can expand our warehouse; we can expand our store and the space on the corner will open as a community ministry. We will have Christian-based grief counseling, support for the mentally ill and an addiction recovery program.”

The doors of the community ministry will be open to all.

Full article.

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