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St. Matthew’s House began in 1987 when a group of Naples parishioners followed a calling to bring food to a homeless population living in a nearby wooded area. The “Task Force for the Homeless” began gathering contributions of both food and clothing, establishing the mission’s food pantry. Throughout the years, community support has helped grow the small mission into a multi-faceted organization focused on spiritual change. And today, the organization is trying to help their community, which is ailing in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

As St. Matthew’s House VP Bill Curry tells us, “Homelessness was already on the rise in Southwest Florida before Hurricane Ian, this storm has exponentially increased the number of people experiencing homelessness. This kind of trauma is not easily overcome. Our shelter programs not only provide beds and food, we also provide personalized case management attention, expert behavioral and medical health care through our partners. While each person we serve is in a current crisis, our team is consistently thinking ahead and partnering with each person for their sustainable future.”

Likewise, food insecurity was also increasing in the area, and that has also gotten worse in the wake of the hurricane. “Prior to the storm we were receiving nearly 25,000 visits monthly to our mobile food pantry…fueled by the pandemic and inflationary pressures.”

He notes that there will be new distribution sites over the next few days:

Saturday, 10/1 9-11 am: First Baptist Church of Naples
Saturday, 10/1 1-3pm: East Naples Baptist Church
Monday, 10/3 11-1pm: Ocean Church of Cape Coral
Wednesday, 10/5 10-12pm: Paradise Sports Sports Complex

Curry notes that more distributions will be scheduled and will be announced as they become available. Follow St. Matthew’s House on Facebook for the latest announcements.

One source of St. Matthew’s funding is their thrift stores and at the moment those stores are closed. Curry says, “While this might not seem like a huge issue, uniquely St. Matthew’s House funds over 50% of its annual budget through our thrift stores. Each lost business day is over $40,000 of revenue that is not available to support programs that serve families experiencing homelessness, hungry neighbors and people battling addiction. Today those stores are closed and several locations will be weeks before they can re-open. These stores are also employment for 140 people who have battled incredible adversity in their own pasts. Re-opening the stores is a high priority not only for program revenue, but also for the workforce development opportunities the stores provide.”

So, how can you help?

Donate Money: You can donate at their website. If you have large, stock or unique donations, you can reach out to Curry at bcurry@stmatthewshouse.org or billcurry1996@yahoo.com (their server is still down, so until it is up, he needs to use his personal email address).

Donate Food and Supplies: Donations from individuals can be dropped off at 2601 Airport Rd during regular business hours.                If you have large scale donations you can arrange them through  St. Matthew’s House VP of Programs Ray Steadman at rays@stmatthewshouse.org (if you don’t get a response, use Bill’s email).

They need housing for their staff: Several of St. Matthews’ staff and families are in need of temporary housing. If you can help, please contact CEO, Steve Brooder at sbrooder@stmatthewshouse.org or at stevebrooder@aol.com.