‘This is where Sara fits in’

Barbara and Sara Hoffman.

Twelve-year-old Sara Hoffman was enrolled in The Matheny School in September 2013, and her parents, Barbara and Jeff Hoffman of Califon, “feel so blessed that she’s able to attend. We absolutely love the school.” To demonstrate their appreciation, the Hoffmans have created a fundraising page to raise money for Miles for Matheny, the annual fundraiser and community event that will be held on Sunday, May 31, in downtown Peapack. As of April 27, they had raised $695.

The fundraising page is called “Pikkle’s Posse” and its origin can be traced to Sara’s early childhood. “When she was an infant,” Barbara explained, “she had a hard time sleeping, and we would be up late at night with her. We just said, ‘She’s a little pikkle.’”

Sara was born with a neurological disorder called Aicardi syndrome, which results in frequent seizures beginning in infancy. The typical lifespan for an Aicardi syndrome patient, Hoffman pointed out, is 10 years. “We’ve already surpassed that by two years!”

Prior to coming to Matheny, Sara attended the Valley View Elementary School in Califon, part of the Lebanon Township school district. According to her mother, she had a good experience there, but Matheny “is a better fit. Every parent wants their child to fit in, and this is where Sara fits in. These kids are her peers. When we’re out in public, she stands out, people stare. But at Matheny, everybody is so welcoming—plus we have the therapies and the outdoor pool in the summer. They are better equipped to handle her here.”

Matheny, Hoffman feels, is like a family. Her older daughter, Amy, volunteers in the summer, and “because of her sister, she wants to get into pediatric nursing.” And the Hoffmans also appreciate the opportunity to interact with other Matheny families.

At Miles for Matheny, they will be walking with Sara in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk in which friends and families, along with Matheny staff members, travel alongside more than 100 Matheny children and adults who “wheel” through the streets of downtown Peapack to the cheers of community members and other supporters. Other activities include a new Fitness Walk, five Cycling rides and a Kids’ Fun Run, all preceded by The Friends of Matheny’s “Breakfast of Champions.” Title sponsor is the Poses Family Foundation.

Funds raised at Miles for Matheny will benefit programs and services that enhance the lives of children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities and serve people with disabilities in the community. For more information or to register, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call 908.234.0011, ext. 260. To help support Barbara and Jeff Hoffman’s fundraising efforts, go to the Miles website and click on Search for Participant. Then type in Pikkle’s Posse.

Brightening up the workplace

Jess Evans with Tim Peters and her painting, “Spiderweb.”

Several years ago, Tim Peters, president of Peapack, NJ-based Tim Peters and Company and MedActionPlan.com LLC, purchased a painting by one of Matheny’s Arts Access artists at a silent auction. “Everyone who comes into the office loves the picture and comments on it,” he says. “We love how it looks in our office. It brightens up our day.”

More recently, Peters was reading the Winter 2015 issue of Matheny Matters, Matheny’s newsletter, when he spotted an article about a visit to the Visiting Nurse Association of the Somerset Hills in Basking Ridge, NJ, by two Arts Access artists. At the bottom of the page were images of two Arts Access paintings, “Spiderweb” by Jess Evans and an untitled piece by T.J. Christian. Peters contacted Arts Access and purchased both. Then, when he came to pick up the paintings, he met with both artists, who told Peters they would like to visit his office so they can see their paintings hanging. Plans are already in the works for these visits.

Arts Access enables artists with disabilities to create art without boundaries. Tim Peters and Company creates innovative print and software-based programs for the healthcare community. The firm has been on Peapack’s Main Street for more than 30 years.

Tim Peters with TJ Christian and his untitled painting.

‘Teachers Who Rock’

Dawn Williams, right, celebrates with her mother, Debbie.

Matheny School teacher Dawn Williams was one of 22 New Jersey teachers honored at Greater Media New Jersey radio stations’ “Teachers Who Rock” awards dinner, held March 31 at Casa Bianca in Oak Ridge, NJ. The teachers were greeted by Dan Finn, Greater Media New Jersey senior vice president and regional general manager. Then the awards were presented by personalities from rock radio station WDHA 105.5 FM and classic oldies WMTR 1250 AM.

Williams is the preschool teacher at Matheny. She believes the best teachers “are those who inspire us, who believe in us until we believe in ourselves, who push us, open up our minds, show us different worlds, help us understand, help us break barriers and truly bring out the best in us.”

Dawn receiving her award from WDHA morning show co-host Jim Monahan.