Matt, when I was made aware of how and why you died, I knew I had to do something to prevent another from suffering your fate.
Knowing that your death was preventable lit a fire in my gut and gave me the courage to fight the broken system of sober living homes that played a large part in your death.
After finding out that the operator of your so called sober home had no license or certification to even open a sober home I was completely blow away. So in reality he operated a boarding house, preying on the vulnerable population that you were part of. For $200 dollars a week you got nothing. No peer support, no meetings, no supervision, just a bed in a room you shared with other men.
The operator did whatever he wanted. Kicking people out in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their back. And with you dropping you off at a motel after you relapsed at 2:30 in the morning knowing you were in distress. It was just too much trouble for him to call 911, take you to an Emergency Department or a treatment facility.
He had no one to answer to as he played God with the lives of those living in his facility. Sadly, when I did my research I found that this was the norm with sober homes. Anyone could buy or rent a property and label it a sober home. There were no certifications or licenses required . Mind blowing since you have to have a license to cut hair in every state. I’ve never known of anyone who died from a bad haircut!
During my advocacy work, I’d been involved with working on 6 bills all having to do with Substance Use Disorder and how it’s treated in Delaware. I knew that Sober Homes needed to be licensed and regulated. I knew the operators must be held accountable by a governing body to protect the individual’s living in the homes.
Our Bill was born in a Bob Evans restaurant after I requested a meeting with a House Representative to discuss my research. Like me she was appalled at how Sober Homes operated and agreed that we needed to enact legislation to prevent this industry from taking advantage of vulnerable people.
This Bill was first drafted in 2019. Being derailed by my cancer diagnosis and then Covid. It was supported, then not supported. Funded, then not funded. I felt like I was back on that roller coaster like I was when you were in your active addiction.
I knew I could never give up, so I kept advocating, reaching out to both the House and Senate telling your story and sharing my research. I started to feel like it would never happen. I thought it was a lost cause and I was going to have to live knowing there would be many more Matt’s who would suffer your fate.
One day my phone rang with the news I had prayed for. Finally, after 3 years of back and forth, the Bill had gained enough support to be brought before the House for a vote. I remember sitting there. I remember my heart beating so loud I could barely hear anything being said. The vote was a unanimous yes! I remember feeling like I was dreaming as the congratulatory hugs enveloped my heart.
The next week we were before the Senate. Once again my heart was racing as I sat silently praying the members would feel the passion I felt regarding my Bill. I remember holding my breath as the voting started, closing my eyes feeling the tears run down my face. One by one I heard yes, yes, yes. Another unanimous vote.
My dearest son, my beautiful boy, the Matthew D. Klosowski Act was signed into law by our Governor on August 1st, two days after your birthday. As I stood next to the Governor and watched him sign our Bill into law, I could picture your smiling face. As the cameras flashed and the clapping began, all I could think of was you.
This Bill is your legacy. Your name and story will forever be remembered. My gift to you for all the world to see. Until we meet again. All my love, Mom