(photo: Arlene Bettencourt-President of the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle and Vann Ellison )
St. Matthew’s House us comprised of three primary missions: Homeless Shelters, Feeding Ministries, and Substance Abuse Programs. Currently, they operate a 114-bed shelter in Naples and a 44-bed shelter in Immokalee with facilities housing men, women, and families.
Their program is a structured recovery program where residents must adhere to covenants which prohibit drug or alcohol use, requires them to do daily chores, and requires them to work with case managers on pre-agreed upon plans for transition to independence.
Their Feeding Ministries Program offers direct assistance to provide emergency groceries up to twice monthly for families at or below the poverty line with small children or elderly in the household. They distributed over 8,000 bags of groceries in 2013 and their soup kitchen has served two meals per day for the past 25 years.
(Editor's note): Ellison's organization recently bought the Port LaBelle Inn in a cash deal with the previous owner and will be housing recovering drug and alcohol abusers at the 50 room facility. The liquor license was transferred to a company owned by Ellison. The bar has now been closed at the restaurant and it is now advertising an alcohol-free restaurant. The group applied to the county for zoning permission to operate a substance abuse program but was turned down.