A Washington councilman who faces a preliminary hearing later this month for a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol wants to partner with a substance abuse treatment center, where he recently received care, to offer a scholarship.
Matthew Staniszewski announced in a news release that he is partnering with Washington business owner Mark Kennison and DreamLife Recovery in Donegal to offer a $45,000 scholarship for someone who may need inpatient treatment.
“I voluntarily admitted myself into an inpatient program there, and I want to build that bridge with DreamLife and the recovery community in the Washington area,” Staniszewski said in an interview Friday.
He said his “intake” date at DreamLife was Sept. 3, the same day Washington police filed charges in court. He was arrested Aug. 26 after he was found unconscious behind the wheel on East Wheeling Street about 1:13 p.m. His car was blocking traffic, and there were bottles of liquor on the floor, according to court documents.
“Economic status, race, sexual preference, gender, and everything in between, addictive behaviors do not discriminate,” Staniszewski said in the release. “I faced my own unhealthy ‘coping’ behaviors in an attempt to mask my depression, hurt, and anxiety.”
He said he travels to Donegal to continue outpatient treatment because of a shortage of services in the region. He said while he was developing his outpatient care plan, he came across waiting lists for treatment.
Staniszewski said he’s continuing his care with Dr. Gina Marchando, executive director of DreamLife Recovery, a native of Washington County and alumna of Washington & Jefferson College. She said DreamLife is “footing the bill” for the $45,000 scholarship, which will provide multiple levels of care, including medical detox, a residential stay of 28 to 30 days and a transition back into the community, for a total of 45 days.
Washington residents in need of treatment can pick up a scholarship application in many public locations in the city and send them by Dec. 2 to DreamLife at 212 Snyder Road, Donegal, PA, 15628. Staniszewski and Kennison, recent unsuccessful mayoral candidate, will review applications and interview applicants before awarding the scholarship.
“I love our city and want to see it flourish,” Kennison said in the release. “That includes helping those in need without appropriate access to care.”
Staniszewski returned to City Council meetings this month after being in rehab. He said he wants to look for other opportunities to bring recovery services to Washington.
“I sought out the help I needed and continue every day to live a better life to contribute positively to society,” he said in the release. “I understand firsthand and want to reach out to those who are still suffering.”
Staniszewski’s preliminary hearing on the August DUI is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Nov. 22. It’s his fourth DUI arrest since 2004, two of which happened during his first term on City Council. In 2007, he crashed a vehicle in North Strabane Township with a blood-alcohol content of 0.29%. He was also cited for public drunkenness in February 2018, after becoming aggressive with a restaurant employee in North Strabane Township.