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St. Matthew’s grads celebrate second chance after addiction

Twenty-eight men and women in Southwest Florida just reclaimed their lives after addiction.

This week marked the 30th recovery program graduation ceremony and largest-ever for St. Matthew’s House.

Cheers and applause echoed throughout the Moorings Presbyterian Church earlier this week as these two men and several others celebrated turning their lives around.

“Before I came here, I was actually living in a vehicle I’d stolen,” said Jacob Webb. “He was living in the woods in a tent that he built himself,” he said of fellow graduate, Dustin Cheatwood.

“I ended up in Jackson County Jail,” Cheatwood said,” where I met [Jacob] and they offered me this place and it was 2,000 miles away.”

So instead of spending time in jail, Cheatwood and Webb came to east Naples and this addiction recovery program.

“Both Jake and Dustin, they were referred to us by a legal system, a judge who knew about the work we did felt like they were men that deserved another chance instead of a lengthy incarceration,” said St. Matthew’s House President Vann Ellison.

He saw a special bond form between the men as they spent the year-long program learning to live for others rather than their addiction.

“We want them building a sense of self-worth and confidence by doing good things, [like] serving the homeless at our soup kitchen,” Ellison said.

“The process we went through every day, through the ups and downs, working together, struggling together; the roles and responsibilities they push you toward, that really got me ready for the outside world,” Webb said.

An outside world where these two now walk sober together toward a bright future, side-by-side.

“I’m getting married in March,” Cheatwood said. “He’s gonna be there, he’s gonna be my best man.”

“We brought out the best in each other,” Webb said.

The best as they leave the worst behind and look forward to their second chance.

This week, Cheatwood started working for the St. Matthew’s shelter. He says he’s eager to help homeless people in situations similar to the one he overcame. Webb says he’s obtained his dream job in construction.

If you’d like to get involved or learn more about St. Matthew’s House, click here.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Briana Harvath
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