About twenty years ago, when my brother Korey was three years old, he helped my mom start the Stuffed Friends program. It was implemented in over seventy five police, fire, and ambulance departments in New Jersey and New York. Their idea was to have an instant friend available for any child in the middle of a dangerous situation, or a crisis. They knew that stuffed animals were real to children unlike any other toy. If you took away a child’s train set, they could get over that, but if you were to take their stuffed animal away or throw it against a wall or something, that would traumatize them.
They were nominated for the merit of honor by one police department and heard many stories about the program’s success. But by ’98 mom became too sick and had to stop the program herself, but luckily it was carried on. She was forced to move to Pennsylvania to take care of my brother and I because she couldn’t afford to stay in New Jersey anymore. She had to have massive open heart surgery in ’99 because it was discovered she had a very rare birth defect where her aorta wasn’t connected to her body, and she was supposed to die when she was seven days old. She wanted to recover in a year or two and then get back to work, but sadly that’s not what happened.
We all moved into a beautiful four bedroom house in Kingston Pennslylvania, with a big backyard and everything. Korey was a national honors student and I carried notebooks everywhere. My mother kept a beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables and fruit, but then she started getting seriously ill. Multiple sinus infections and bone infections, and Korey was getting sick too. He wasn’t acting like himself, and I was having trouble breathing.
This went on for eight years, with mom being bed-ridden for most of them. She couldn’t drive and was taken to multiple doctors from Philly to NJ. In ’07 during one of her sinus surgeries, the surgeon removed strips of what he described as hard black shoe leather. Within two months following that surgery, her eye bone had to be removed.
On 12/20/13, Korey missed orientation for college, and we went to his apartment to find him dead on his bedroom floor. Only eight months after his death did we find out what happened: there was toxic mold in our home, from top to bottom.
Suddenly we learned about this awful, sneaky toxic substance that was in our water from clogged pipes, we were washing our clothes with it and cooking our food with it and bathing with it. It wasn’t like normal mold that you can get rid of without a problem. We learned all about the things toxic mold does to your body, and after speaking with the CDC we were advised to hang up immediately and pretend the house was on fire, and run, because we were in the latent stages of micotoxin poisoning, and the next stage was coma or death.
We moved homes twice now. The second time, the movers did not clean what little we could keep(you have to throw nearly everything you own in the garbage) and there were mold spores contaminating us. Not mold you could see on your items, but the spores. Then we moved to East Stroudsburg PA, into a beautiful home right by the state’s gaming land. It felt like a forever home; a place we could recover and live well. You don’t expect lightning to strike you twice, but, it did. This home had a toxic mold problem too.
We found out about this one much sooner. It was dry for the first few months but then there was a period of constant rain. We thought it was from the clogged drain pipes outside, but once that was fixed we were still experiencing symptoms. It wasn’t until after we were forced to leave because of the issue(and not even getting our security deposit back or any of our displacement costs paid for) did we find out that it was actually because of an illegal drainage pipe that led through a closet in my bedroom that was outlawed in that area over thirty years ago.
Now, since August, my mother and I have been homeless because of this poison. This is the second time in three years since my brother’s death that we have been without a home. My mother keeps trying her best and working herself too hard to find us a place to live, to no avail. She keeps telling me it is not my responsibility to fix this but I can’t sit by and do nothing. The least I can do is try reaching out in hopes that someone will help us. All we want is a clean home to recover in, that’s it. I don’t want to lose my mother; it’s too soon. I don’t want her to be sick anymore.
So, thank you guys for listening, and taking the time to read this letter. If you cannot help us, we understand.
Have a good day, and God Bless.