‘Community Team Works’

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.

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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!

DHS Commissioner’s Visit

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.”

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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.

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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.”

Art Garden ‘Pickup’

Art Garden CSA is a Community Supported Arts Program to connect emerging artists with disabilities and local art collectors. It is a collaboration between Matheny’s Arts Access Program and Arts Unbound, made possible by a Community Employment Grant from the Kessler Foundation.

Ten artists – five from Arts Access and five from Arts Unbound – were selected to participate in the program. Each artist was required to create 25 pieces of art, ranging from paintings, jewelry, small sculptures, wearable art, photography, and more. From this, 25 shares of art, each containing 10 pieces of art and selling for $500, were offered for sale to art collectors.

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Sherry Maklary, a resident of Long Valley, NJ, picked up her Art Garden share and met Arts Access/Art Garden artists Ellen Kane, left, and Cindy Shanks. They are in front of Kane’s “The Moving”, left, and Shanks’ “I Cannot Look Back”.

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Vincent Barba, Matheny vp of patient safety, and his wife, Theresa, picked up their Art Garden share and spent some time with Arts Access/Art Garden artists Jess Evans and James Lane.

On Sunday, June 26, the first “pickup” event was held at Matheny’s Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, and several of the share purchasers came to claim their artwork and to meet the artists.  Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program, expressed, “a huge thank you to the Kessler Foundation. They made this happen.”  Art Garden, she added, “was the seed of an idea by Celene Ryan, Arts Unbound director of artist development.”  Then, Murray introduced the Arts Access artists, and Ryan recognized the Arts Unbound artists.

Paving the Way

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.”

 

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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.

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From left, Joshua Benson; Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD, Matheny president and CEO; and Larry Thornton.

 

Congratulations, Michael!

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.

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Michael Martin and Arts Access dance facilitator Heather Williams at the awards ceremony.

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Michael Martin with his parents, Alan and Linda Martin.

Generous Friends

“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.

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From left, Linda Horton, Liz Geraghty, Kendell R. Sprott, MD, JD

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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.

Matheny Memories

With the help of volunteers from the Home Depot stores in Bridgewater, NJ, Girl Scouts from Troop 60077 in Bedminster, NJ, helped beautify the memorial garden dedicated to Walter and Marguerite Matheny, founders of The Matheny School. The Mathenys created the school in 1946 to educate and care for children, such as their son, Chuck, who has cerebral palsy.

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Clockwise, from left: Girl Scouts Emily Caspersen, Mira Patla, Sheila DeLorean, and Katherine Gaudio (also a Matheny resident); and Chuck Matheny.

The dedication ceremony, held on May 24, began with recitations of the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law by members of Troop 60077. Dr. Norma Fair-Brown, Matheny chaplain, blessed the garden, and Chuck Matheny thanked everyone for “a beautiful job.” The festivities concluded with the singing of the Matheny alma mater, led by members of the music therapy department.

Miles for Matheny

Church Cheerleaders

Ed Iannone and Nancy Soto, residents at Matheny’s group home in Basking Ridge, NJ, are regular churchgoers at the Somerset Hills Lutheran Church, also in Basking Ridge. Eric Reiss, a member of the congregation, recalls one Sunday when, “Ed asked me if I knew about Miles for Matheny. He was hoping that the church could gather people to participate. My daughter, Erica, has volunteered on projects at Matheny through the Junior Friends of Matheny chapter at Ridge High School, and she had participated in Miles for Matheny last year. So, she volunteered to coordinate efforts within the congregation and to learn more about how the church could get involved.”

Erica learned quickly. She formed a fundraising team, SHLC Cheer, which, as of May 19, had raised $1,037. Volunteers from SHLC will also create a cheering section during the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk at Miles and will help with the clean up after the event. And, Erica is hopeful of recruiting cheering volunteers from Ridge High as well. “There’s going to be a sign up in the school,” she said, “and I’m going to tell people to join the cheering section. There should be a lot of us from Ridge.”

When Iannone and Soto expressed an interest in joining the SHLC congregation, Pastor Daniel Fenco had two pews taken out to make room for their wheelchairs and caregivers. “Members of the congregation reached out to Ed and Nancy to help them feel welcome,” said Eric Reiss, “and one teenage boy, Kristian Springsteel, became an ambassador for the congregation. It was his project to make sure they felt at home and to assist them in moving around the sanctuary.

In addition to the Wheelchair Walk, Miles for Matheny activities on Sunday, June 5, in Peapack’s Liberty Park, include: five different Cycling Rides, a one-mile Fitness Walk, and a Kids Fun Run. There is also a Breakfast of Champions, provided by The Friends of Matheny, and lots of family-oriented activities and attractions including a bounce house, fire truck tours, and free ice cream and cotton candy. All funds raised at Miles for Matheny will support programs and services that enhance the lives of the students and patients at Matheny, children, teens, and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. Major sponsors are: the Poses Family Foundation, premier sponsor; the Golub Family, Mariner Wealth Advisors; Partlow Insurance; Peapack-Gladstone Bank; Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. Attorneys at Law; and WCBS Newsradio 880.

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From left, Ed Iannone, Erica Reiss, Eric Reiss, and Nancy Soto

For more information, to register, or to form a fundraising team, log onto milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260. To support SHLC Cheer, click on Search For Participant, type in the team name, and then click Support Me!

PG Loves Matheny!

Donna Brooten and Judy Silacci, residents of Peapack-Gladstone, have once again formed a Miles for Matheny fundraising page, “PG Loves Matheny”. Their message is simple: “Please join our fellow Peapack-Gladstone neighbors for the ‘PG Loves Matheny’ Fitness Walk. Many will be walking, but we’d love to see a special showing of our townspeople.  Please donate to PG Loves Matheny and try and walk with us, too.”

In addition to the Fitness Walk, Miles for Matheny activities, on Sunday, June 5, in Peapack’s Liberty Park, include: the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk, five different Cycling Rides, and a Kids Fun Run. There is also a Breakfast of Champions, provided by The Friends of Matheny and lots of family-oriented activities and attractions, including a bounce house, fire truck tours, and free ice cream and cotton candy. All funds raised at Miles for Matheny will support programs and services that enhance the lives of the students and patients at Matheny, children, teens, and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. Major sponsors are: the Poses Family Foundation, premier sponsor; the Golub Family; Mariner Wealth Advisors; Partlow Insurance; Peapack-Gladstone Bank; Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. Attorneys at Law; and WCBS Newsradio 880.

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Fitness Walkers at Miles for Matheny 2015. Sign holders are Debbie Infusino, left, and Judy Silacci.

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Donna Brooten

For more information, to register, or to form a fundraising team, log onto milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260. To support PG Loves Matheny, click on Search For Participant , type in the team name, and then click Support Me!

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