Rochester rallies around a homeless man

At least in the short term, Corey Jacob, the homeless Rochester, Minn., man whose van was smashed on Good Friday when it was hit by a drunk driver, is going to be OK.

When the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported on his plight — he was living in the van, the police ordered him to have it towed away, and he didn’t have any money — it was fairly predictable what would happen. The newspapers readers were likely to respond.

That’s the way it goes with stories like this. The phenomenon of homelessness in Minnesota often doesn’t push us to do anything about it. The story of one homeless guy with a face and a name hits the heart.

The paper says it did.

While looking at bicycles, he was surprised when someone showed him that Joe Kinsella and Corey Stafford of Kinsella’s Auto Sales had launched a GoFundMe campaign for Jacob on Wednesday night.

“It already had $6,300 in it. I was flabbergasted,” said Jacob as his voice broke with emotion. “I’m so humbled, so very grateful for the outpouring of support.”

Stafford said he and Kinsella did not know what to expect when they put up the GoFundMe campaign for Jacob. They originally set the goal for $5,000.

“We were hopeful, but not very optimistic. Then after first day, it didn’t take long to realize we needed to raise goal,” he said.

The campaign topped $5,000 and they raised the goal to $7,500. In the end, the campaign raised $7,870.

“It was a pleasant surprise. It was great to see the community come together,” Stafford said.

He and others are helping set up an account for Jacob that will not spur any additional costs for him.

Meanwhile, Rochester car dealerships of Kinsella’s and Clements Chevrolet helped him move his wrecked van from the city streets to Watson Recycling. Then Southpoint Motors and Grover Auto in Zumbrota found a 1990 GMC conversion van to replace his previous one. Southpoint sold it to him for $1.

An appreciative Jacob says he plans to use the GoFundMe money to help maintain his current van. His plan is for he and Nighty to continue to live in the van on Rochester’s streets until he can find affordable Section 8 housing in downtown Rochester.

Jacob says he was an active worker until he was about 24 and his heart “acted up.”

“It can happen to anybody. I was fine, and then I wasn’t,” Jacob tells the paper.

He also had the perfect question: “I appreciate what everyone has done for me, but what about all of the others?” he asked.