It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the passing of Matheny School’s first student and the face of the Matheny community, Mr. Charles H. Matheny. Charles was the inspiration and the catalyst for the origins of the school, which has become so many things to many different people, including a hospital, a clinic, a fine arts program, adult program, and group homes. Mr. Matheny was and is a beacon of possibility and a model of excellence to which all our students, residents, patients, and clients can aspire to be. During his lifetime, Mr. Matheny finished high school, learned to drive, mowed all the lawns of Matheny’s main campus, and ran the soda machines.
Mr. Matheny was far more than the sum of his accomplishments. He developed close relationships with all the staff and was interested in improving the lives of everyone within the Matheny Community. He loved to attend Matheny fundraisers and Friends of Matheny events, conversing with people from all walks of life, and he took a very real interest in the students who resided in the school that bore his family name. He attended back-to-school nights, graduations, plays, choir concerts, and museum coffee houses. In fact, anything Matheny — he was all in. Mr. Matheny was kind, humorous, and compassionate. Per his family: “Chuck lived an incredibly rich and meaningful life — a testament to the love and care that is cultivated and shared at Matheny. We are so grateful to the many friends, coworkers, and caregivers who have crossed his path and enriched his life.”
We will all miss Mr. Matheny, yet we shall carry on embodying the undeniable spirit of Charles H. Matheny.
The world outside our walls is just as important to patient well-being as our facility itself.
If you could go anywhere on a community outing of your choice, where would you go?
For our patients, the answers are as individual as they are.
For Chris, whose passions include baseball and meeting new people, he would accept more shifts at his job as a vendor at TDBank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots.
For Jessica, who enjoys shopping, she would engage in a bit of retail therapy at the Bridgewater Mall.
For Melvin, a foodie, he would savor a meal at one of the hot new restaurants on the local culinary scene.
At Matheny, our commitment to our patients goes beyond providing high quality medical care and education. We also seek to enrich lives through making recreational opportunities and community outings as accessible as possible. While group outings are the norm, rarely do patients get to choose and embark upon personal outings most important to them due to lack of individualized transportation options.
The addition of a wheel chair accessible van would change that. No longer would patients be limited to large vehicles operated by commercially licensed drivers. Patients and their Recreation Therapists could together plan more frequent, meaningful community trips specific to patients’ needs that would delight and empower them, increase their visibility and role within the community, perhaps even unlock their potential.
In a hospital that also serves as their home, many opportunities are available for group activities and trips into the community with fellow patients. But how often do patients get the opportunity to take an individualized trip?
“The reality is, that doesn’t happen very often,” says Sean Bielefeldt, Director of Recreation Therapy & Adult Day Health Services. “But the addition of a wheel chair accessible minivan would mean such opportunities, both recreational and practical, would flourish for our patients.”
Take Chris, for instance. It had long been Chris’s dream to work in or around baseball, and one of his greatest pleasures is his job at TD Bank Ballpark, home to the Somerset Patriots. For __ years he has worked as a vendor serving refreshments. Amidst sounds like the crack of the bat and roar of the crowd and the smell of freshly popped popcorn, Chris enjoys interacting with fans who share his abiding love of the game. Most of all, he relishes the freedom and inclusiveness of being an active member of his community, and the pride of earning a wage for an honest day’s work.
While his family can sometimes provide a ride to work, this is not a permanent solution. For him and others like him, the addition of a wheel chair accessible minivan would make a huge difference in the quality of their lives through increasing access to the community, which would create unprecedented opportunities for personal and therapeutic advancement.
For many patients at Matheny, residing there is not a life-long prospect. “The goal for our patients is to live in the community,” explains Sean. “How better to prepare those individuals than to work with them within the community itself to develop skills and independence such as navigating curb cut outs, crossing the streets, utilizing public transportation, or making a bank deposit?” In this way, a wheel chair accessible van is not just another vehicle, but an invaluable tool for therapists to create opportunities for patient development, growth, and eventual independence.
The world outside our walls is just as important to patient well-being as our facility itself.
Whether it’s the opportunity to see their favorite band in concert, take in a movie they’ve been anticipating, get to work at their dream job, or find their place within our community, a wheel chair accessible mini-van will open up a world of possibilities for our patients.
Please join us this #Giving Tuesday to make those possibilities a reality for those we serve. Click below to help us give the perfect gift:
Read about one of Matheny’s talented artists, Ellen Kane! Her creativity will shine on stage on November 4th during our annual Full Circle Event. To purchase tickets, go to the Arts Access event registration page.
Several retired professional football players will be golfing and socializing at The Matheny School’s “Par-Tee on the Links” golf tournament being held on Tuesday, September 27, at the Oak Hill Golf Club in Milford, NJ. The appearance of the former NFL players was coordinated by Dave Szott, director of player development for the New York Jets, who was an offensive lineman for the Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins. Szott is also the father of Matheny resident, Shane Szott, and a member of Matheny’s Board of Trustees.
Other past players who will be in attendance are: Tony Richardson, fullback for several NFL teams and former New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers center Bart Oates.
Funds raised at the golf tournament will support technology for Matheny’s students — children with multiple disabilities. The tournament will begin at 11 a.m. with registration and a shotgun start. Cost is $175 per person, or $650 for a foursome. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information or to register, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 239, or email email@example.com. the Oak Hill Golf Club is located at 15 Fernwood Road in Milford.
In November 2015, volunteers from Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, totally refurbished Matheny’s therapy room, replacing the sink, repairing and painting walls and trim, replacing protective wall coverings, building and installing computer tables, installing window treatments, and replacing an accordion door that is used to divide the large area.
Another group of Pfizer employees, many of whom work at the Peapack, NJ-based Pfizer facility thay is practically next door to Matheny, repaired and painted Matheny’s pole barn – a large structure that houses a woodshop and storage for equipment used by our facilities department. In June 2016, Pfizer’s summer interns – college students from around the country – did a complete makeover of Matheny’s adapted baseball field, installing pavers in the dugouts, completely resurfacing the field, and installing a beautiful new scoreboard.
Pfizer college interns completed a makeover of Matheny’s adapted baseball field.
Pfizer donated all of the resources for these projects. In addition, many Pfizer employees volunteer at Matheny throughout the year, and the company offers Matheny the use of its parking garage during our annual fundraiser and community event, Miles for Matheny.
“I love what you are doing. You have leveled the playing field in creativity by the processes you use.” That was the reaction of Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who visited Matheny’s Arts Access Program on July 25th, along with U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance and Nick Paleologos, chair of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Rep. Lance and the NEA’s Jane Chu look at a script based on the Mortal Kombat video game being written by Arts Access artist Chris Saglimbene, right.
From left, Eileen Murray, Nick Paleologos, Jane Chu, Rep. Leonard Lance, and Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD, Matheny president and CEO.
Eileen Murray, director of Arts Access, explained the art facilitation method, emphasizing that, “every creative choice is in the hands of the artists. The facilitators never interject their personal style.” Then, Chu, Lance, and Paleologos visited with several artists and observed them at work with their facilitators. Arts Access is a unique fine arts program enabling individuals with disabilities to fully express themselves in the creative arts. Lance, who is co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, concluded that, “We look to Matheny to lead the way. Keep up your fine work.”
The investment banking company, Goldman Sachs, made Matheny part of its “Community Team Works” project several years ago through the efforts of Bernardsville, NJ, resident Pam Cembrook, who, at the time, was president of The Friends of Matheny. Her husband, John, is a Goldman Sachs executive, and he put together a team of volunteers who cheerfully weed, rake, mulch, and plant.
Goldman Sachs volunteers return every year to weed, rake, mulch, and plant in Matheny’s courtyard.
The Goldman Sachs CTW team returns to Matheny every year to refresh our courtyard and other gardens, always adding a few new touches. The company not only donates the muscle, but it also funds the purchase of necessary equipment and supplies. Thanks, Goldman Sachs, for your continuing support!
Elizabeth Connolly, acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and Elizabeth M. Shea, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities, visited Matheny on June 30 to learn more about our Arts Access Program, which enables individuals with disabilities to fully express themselves in the creative arts.
During the visit, Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program, explained how artists with disabilities are assisted by professional artists, who act as their facilitators. The facilitators offer the artists a variety of choices, but, Murray emphasized, “they must remain neutral, with no preconceptions.” Facilitators, she added, are required to go through “a stringent training process.” The process, she said, requires a great deal of patience, and “choice is at the heart of the program. Every facilitator,” she said, “needs to be a professional artist, but not every professional artist can be a facilitator.”
From left, Elizabeth M. Shea, assistant commissioner of the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities; Elizabeth Connolly, acting commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services; and Arts Access artist Yasin Reddick.
From left, Elizabeth M. Shea, assistant commissioner, the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities; Elizabeth Connolly, acting commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services; Andrew Edge, Arts Access visual arts coordinator; Edana Desatnick, co-chair of Matheny’s Board of Trustees; and Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program.
Shea wondered if the philosophy of the Arts Access facilitation process “could be translated to choices about other things, food choices, for example.” Murray explained that, “the process is for art, but it could be used for anything.” Connolly and Shea also toured Matheny’s hospital and school, after which Connolly concluded that, “This is a happy place.”
What started out as a routine volunteer activity by some employees from Home Depot stores in Bridgewater, NJ, has developed into a solid, long-term partnership between the home improvement chain and Matheny.
Home Depot employees have built planters for The Matheny School science class . . . Raked and cleaned Matheny’s nature trail and ball field . . . Laid pavers in front of Matheny’s main entrance to create a visiting spot for parents and friends . . . Donated needed materials for other projects.
The relationship rose to a new level when Rich Aaron, an employee in one of the Bridgewater stores, approached his mother, Chris Aaron, who handles commercial materials dispatch and orders for Parsippany, NJ-based Tilcon New Jersey, a company that specializes in asphalt paving. Rich wanted to know if Tilcon would consider paving the 1,100-foot nature trail at Matheny. The trail has existed for years, but it had deteriorated, and the rough terrain made it inaccessible for Matheny’s students and patients, most of whom are in wheelchairs. The answer from Tilcon was, “yes”, and on Friday, June 24, a large crew of workers from Tilcon and Home Depot arrived early in the morning to complete the task.
Tilcon, said Joshua S. Benson, the company’s general manager, public relations/government affairs, “is proud to have been a part of this project, working closely with the Matheny School and The Home Depot. Repairing and improving the damage to the nature trail highlights Tilcon’s commitment to our community and its safe environment. We are pleased that the students will again be able to enjoy the nature trail for years to come.”
Larry Thornton, a resident of Pottersville, NJ, a member of Matheny’s Board of Trustees, and a regular volunteer at Matheny, first reached out to Bridgewater store managers John M. Pingitore and Jeff Pemberton a couple of years ago. “Words cannot express,” he said, “how all of us feel about the great works done by these two wonderful companies.”
Matheny student Jacob Rolaf, assisted by personal care assistant Joan Marshall, left, and Tilcon’s Chris Aaron, right, cut the ribbon celebrating completion of the newly paved nature trail.
From left, Joshua Benson; Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD, Matheny president and CEO; and Larry Thornton.
Arts Access artist Michael Martin was awarded a 2016 Kids for Kids Fine Arts Scholarship by Chatham, NJ-based Dance Innovations. The scholarship, presented on May 25, is given to individuals with special needs to help them pursue their interest in the arts.
Michael is one of the most prolific visual artists in the Arts Access Program, a unique fine arts program that enables individuals with disabilities to fully express themselves in the creative arts. Dance Innovations is a studio for dance and the performing arts. Its dance students often perform for the students and patients at Matheny.
Michael Martin and Arts Access dance facilitator Heather Williams at the awards ceremony.
Michael Martin with his parents, Alan and Linda Martin.
“I can’t thank The Friends enough for their generosity and hard work.” Those were the words of Matheny president and CEO, Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD, after Linda Horton, manager of The Friends of Matheny’s Second Chance thrift shop, and Liz Geraghty, president of The Friends, presented him with a symbolic $150,000 check, representing funds donated this year by The Friends to support programs and services that benefit the students and patients at Matheny.
From left, Linda Horton, Liz Geraghty, Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD
The Friends of Matheny officers and board members for 2016-17. From left: Andrea Szott, Dorothy Carter, Nancy Hojnacki, Kathy Sisto (incoming president), Linda Horton, Liz Geraghty, Doris Burman, Edana Desatnick, Kim Caniano, and Jean Wadsworth.
As Horton explained, “The staff members at Matheny produce a wish list of things not covered by Medicaid or insurance. We look at the wish list and decide. We choose how the money is used.” One way the money from last year will be used is to fund a trip to Disney World for four Matheny residents. Sean Bielefeldt, director of recreation therapy, thanked The Friends, “for making this happen. We’re taking four patients to the happiest place on earth for six days and five nights. It wouldn’t be possible without your support.”
After serving as Friends president for four years, Geraghty will be succeeded by Kathy Sisto. Dr. Sprott thanked Geraghty for her leadership. “She has been a very important, steady leader,” he said. He also thanked Horton for continuing to be “the CEO of the thrift shop.” Since their beginnings in 1983, The Friends have raised more than $3 million.