Many turning to St. Matthew’s House to start over

Reporter: Lauren Leslie Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Richie Gay helping a customer at St Matthew’s House thrift store. (Credit: WINK News)

A St. Matthew’s House worker is putting his troubles behind him to help others after the hurricane.

Richie Gay works at The St. Matthew’s House thrift store in Bonita.

“The daily question of what are you shopping for, you kind of tread a little lightly,” said Gay.

That’s because Hurricane Ian took so much from so many.

“You have to be ready for any answer you’re going to get,” Gay said.

From furniture to home goods, many are turning to St. Matthew’s House to start over.

“They come in, and I asked the question, ‘what are you looking for,’ and they say, ‘we lost everything,’ and I say me too.”

Gay’s home is in Siesta Bay. The community was almost completely underwater, and his home was destroyed.

Richie Gay inside is flooded home. (Credit: WINK News)

“You have to have faith in God’s plan, and there is a plan,” said Gay.

Gay showed us what Ian left behind. Amid the mess were momentos that hold great meaning, like his first journal from recovery. In it are words he leaned on to overcome addiction. Now, those are words that will help him recover from Hurricane Ian.

“God never wanted it to be easy, he never said it was going to be easy, and that’s where our faith comes into play,” said Gay.

Gay says things like his journal are signs of a faithful god, a god who keeps his promises, and a god who shines light in the darkness.

Richie Gay’s journal. (Credit: WINK News)

“God says even in the darkest moments, for the strong, he’ll show light.”

Gay survived addiction and now has survived Ian.

“Don’t freak out it’ll get better, and you got to believe. You got to have faith,” said Gay.

Gay and his wife lost everything, but he’s leaning on his faith and trusting God. He has five years of sobriety and said his family at St. Matthew’s House has been an incredible support system through tough times.

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