The Solid Rock Safe Haven building was dedicated to Francis “Ed” and Phyllis Stein on Sunday. The couple volunteered at the homeless shelter and soup kitchen for more than 40 years.
Solid Rock is the longest ongoing homeless program in the community, said Millie Rounsville, executive director of Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency, which has run the shelter since 1999. Originally founded as a mission in 1938, the shelter has moved a few times over the years.
Stein became aware of the mission in 1965, a year after he found Jesus Christ. He saw the cross in the window one day driving home from Bible study.
“I didn’t go in that night,” he said. “The next Sunday night I went in, and I’ve been involved ever since.”
“And he’s still on our board,” said Rounsville. “So he’s clocked almost 50 years of involvement with keeping the Solid Rock program going.”
Stein and his three daughters attended Sunday’s dedication; Phyllis passed away last year, but the event took place on her birthday. For years, the Steins were regular fixtures at the mission.
“I think Ed just wants to give back to the community,” said Steve Matheson of Superior, who’s known Stein for years. “He’s a pretty super guy. He puts others ahead of himself.”
“He lives by example,” said Stein’s daughter, Cindy. “He just doesn’t say he’s a Christian; he actually shows it in his daily work.”
Solid Rock can house up to 25 men, although it usually has less than 20 beds filled. Currently, there are about 10 residents. Men can stay at the shelter for up to 45 days as they work toward securing employment, benefits or housing.
The site’s soup kitchen serves 4,000 meals a month, relying on donations from the community to stay in operation, Rounsville said. Meals are served at noon and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Solid Rock serves a vital purpose, Matheson said. It gives men who are down and out a place to live, leads them in the right direction and gives them faith to make a new start.
Stein, a retired firefighter and World War II veteran, is known for his strong will and equally strong faith.
“Ed and Phyllis have really gone above and beyond contributing to keeping this place up and running,” Rounsville said. “One of the restrictions when our organization took over is that we can only house homeless men, we have to continue to serve the meals twice a day, Monday through Saturday, because that’s what Ed and Phyllis wanted to see happen with this facility going forward.”
Those who attended Sunday’s dedication were happy to see the couple recognized.
“I think this is great,” said Jan McConnell who served the Steins daily at the Kitchen restaurant in Superior. “They worked so hard at this and they didn’t brag about themselves.”
For more information on the shelter, how to donate or volunteer, call 715-392-5127 or visit www.northwest-csa.org.