Residents of Summer Rays express admiration, respect for Chuck Kirk


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Chuck Kirk has been described as someone who takes advantage of the vulnerable.

Some who live in his sober living facilities say he could also be verbally abusive.

Court documents say Chuck Kirk and his family control Summer Rays, Reynoldsburg Revolve Church and the Rev Cafe.

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This week, at the urging of the Attorney General, a Franklin County Court seized control of the properties from Kirk.

The Attorney General's Office calls Summer Rays "a slow-motion crisis on a large scale."

In court filings, the state describes a "cult-like environment" where Kirk "indoctrinated" residents with "verbal and physical intimidation," and "abuse of authority."

But other residents describe Kirk differently.

"Selfless," one woman said.

"Saint," James Wagy said.

"Critical," another man said.

"Determined," Melissa Clapp said.

"Family," Tera Storts said.

At a table outside of the Rev Cafe in Reynoldsburg, five addicts talked with 10TV's Bryant Somerville. They have troubled pasts but promising futures.

Wagy has been sober 18 months.

Clapp has been clean seven months.

Storts lived a life of painkillers, heroin and prostitution. But, not anymore.

"I'll have three years clean in eight days," she said.

They say, with no hesitation, their success is the result of Chuck Kirk.

"Absolutely," Clapp said. "[He's a] huge influence on my life."

The man who didn't want his name used has been sober five years.

"I wouldn't be here without the program," he said. "I'd be dead somewhere or, at best, in jail."

The woman who wished not to have her name used is pregnant with her third child and is due any day. She says she's never been taken advantage of, financially, and as for what some call "verbal abuse," she calls that tough love that addicts like her need to stay on the right path.

"Yeah, sometimes [Kirk] does yell and I guess that's a problem for some people, but we wouldn't be here if it didn't work for us," she said.

They say how Kirk handles business works.

"Since I've been here, [Kirk] has helped me immensely and he's the glue that holds our lives together," Wagy said.

Storts' daughter, Nova, is 19 months old. She says Summer Rays is all she's ever known.

"It's just crazy to think of how many people could possibly relapse or overdose and die because they're choosing to take our homes away from us," Storts said.

These residents say they're worried. Not just for them, but the close to 100 others that, if forced out of sober living, might turn back to the streets and the life they were trying to leave behind.

"It will be a shame if Chuck Kirk and Summer Rays can no longer exist in this community because he's done so much good," Clapp said. "But, I will be grateful for God putting him in my life as a vessel and him being there when I needed him the most."

10TV reached Chuck Kirk by phone Wednesday.

He said he would consult with his attorney and get back with us.

As of Wednesday night, that had not happened.