Now he's thankful not only today but on each of the other 364 days each year for life.
“I feel so much better sober,” he said.
That's why Scott Allen, director of Community Ministries for the Capitol Baptist Association, gave him a job.
Allen, whose responsibilities include serving as director of the Grace Rescue Mission and of Baptist Mission Center, knows the mission's work is not just about getting people to darken the doorway, but about how they are treated after they come in.
Take the Thanksgiving meals, for example.
This will be Allen's 11th at the mission and he's seen blessings play out annually.
One year, a man showed up who had been living outside. He was wet from head to toe and partially covered in mud. More so, he had a strong odor about him.
“He was so far gone mentally from using drugs that it was hard to get through to him,” Allen said. “He needed a meal, and he needed some help. He was welcome here. I sat down with him and when he finished eating, one of the supervisors from the mission and I walked him over to Grace. He took a shower and some guys went to our clothes closet and picked him out some clothes.
“Adult Protective Services came down and I think what ended up happening was that they took him to a crisis center, but at least he didn't have to sleep outside, and he got help.”
Two years ago, a family who had been sleeping in a van came to the Thanksgiving lunch.
They needed blankets and were given at least two each.
“Besides the meal and the blankets, and because we don't house families, we gave them people to contact and agencies to contact that could help them,” Allen said.
Thanksgiving is a sample of the need that Allen, Matarese and Gary witness daily.
Grace Rescue can house up to 110 men on average. That can be expanded to about 140 during bad weather, Allen said.
And Grace Rescue also serves about 300 to 500 meals a day, to men and women. The Baptist Mission Center provides clothing, dental care, eye examinations/glasses and more, he said.
When Allen looks at men such as Matarese and Gary, he focuses not on who they were when they leaned toward thoughts of suicide or using meth, but on two individuals who are helping themselves by caring for others at the mission.
And because of that, Allen said, “I'm thankful for the opportunity to see God's hand move in meeting needs.”