Day of Caring

 

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Kristen O’Dowd of Colts Neck, NJ, right, and Cheryl Wieczorek of Middlesex, NJ, help Matheny student Megan Blaxill make her luau mask.

“I just want to make sure they are having a good time.” That comment typified the enthusiastic spirit of several Janssen Pharmaceuticals volunteers who recently helped  Matheny School students celebrate an end-of-the-year luau. The volunteers, from Janssen’s Raritan, NJ, offices, participated in several activities including mask making and adapted sports games.

The visit was part of a program called Days of Caring in which groups of Janssen employees work together to help further the missions of non-profits. The Days of Caring events, according to the Janssen website, “give employees the opportunity to give back to their communities and take part in rewarding volunteer experiences.”  Janssen, a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson, provides medicines for an array of health concerns in several therapeutic areas including attention deficit hyperactivity, general medicine and mental health.

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The Janssen volunteers gathered outside for a group photo at the end of the day.

Matheny’s Special Athletes

Matheny athletes took home nine Gold and six Silver medals at the 2015 New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games held at the College of New Jersey. Misty Hockenbury, Lee Lubin and Shaleena Tomassini won two Gold Medals each: Hockenbury and Lubin won their Gold Medals  in the 25-meter motorized wheelchair obstacle race, and 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom; Tomassini won for the 100-meter wheelchair race and the 200-meter wheelchair race. Other Gold Medal winners were Bari-Kim Goldrosen for power lifting; Jameir Warren-Treadwell for the wheelchair tennis ball throw; and Ellen Kane for the 25-meter motorized wheelchair obstacle race.

Silver medals were won by Yasin Reddick in the 30-meter wheelchair motorized slalom and the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom; Amanda Kochell and Jason Weiner for bocce mixed doubles; Warren-Treadwell for the 25-meter wheelchair race; and Kane for the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom.  Kochell and Weiner also won a Silver medal bocce unified, in which they teamed up with two Matheny staff members,  recreation therapists Shannon O’Brien and Meghan Walsh.

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Misty Hockenbury, left, and Ellen Kane celebrate their wins in the 50-meter motorized wheelchair slalom.

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The unified bocce team, from left, Shannon O’Brien, Jason Weiner, Meghan Walsh, and Amanda Kochell.

 

 

Competition in Special Olympics is part of Matheny’s recreation therapy program, which provides students and patients with a variety of recreational opportunities and resources to improve their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being.

Picture Perfect

The building of the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry was a top priority for Steve Proctor when he joined Matheny as president in 1998. The Center was completed in 2003 and continues to serve both Matheny’s inpatients and people with disabilities in the community who need medical and dental care by doctors and dentists who understand how to treat and care for them.

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Steve Proctor, speaking to the crowd of well-wishers. From left, Friends of Matheny Nancy Hojnacki, Jean Wadsworth, Edana Desatnick, Karen Thompson.

So, it was fitting that the building should be renamed The Steven M. Proctor Medical Building after Proctor, who retired in December 2014. On June 9, 2015, the Friends of Matheny held a dessert reception there to unveil a portrait of Proctor, created by artist Joseph Sundwall.  Proctor, clearly moved by the event, thanked all the people he had worked with through the years, whose top priority, he emphasized, has  always been the care and well-being of Matheny’s students and patients. He added that the opportunity to be at Matheny was “a gift from God.”  He also expressed appreciation for all the contributions made to Matheny by the Friends of Matheny and paid a special tribute to former chair of the Board of Trustees, Daniel McLaughlin.

Team Goldman Sachs

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After the work was completed, the Goldman Sachs group gathered in the Matheny lobby for a group photo.

 

The rains came, and so did the Goldman Sachs volunteers.  As part of a global volunteer initiative called Community TeamWorks, several volunteers from Goldman Sachs offices in New Jersey and New York visited Matheny on June 5, completed major renovation projects on Matheny’s grounds and installed lots of new plants and flowers. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but, donning ponchos and other rain gear, the GS volunteers completed their outside tasks and still had time to tour Matheny and visit some of the classrooms.

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Goldman Sachs volunteers braved the elements to work in the garden outside the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry.

Under the Community TeamWorks program, some 50 GS offices partner with more than 900 nonprofit community partners worldwide.

Arts Access to Receive Leadership Award

 

Matheny’s Arts Access Program  will receive a Leadership Award from the Cultural Access Network Project (CAN),  a program of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  The award, “for enabling people with disabilities to express themselves with true creative liberty, and to share their works with the public,” will be presented as part of a day-long CAN Awards event being held June 18 at the Grounds for Sculpture in Trenton, NJ.

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Arts Access enables theatre artists with disabilities to develop plays, working with professional actors. From left in back, actors Heather Kelley, Samuel Stricklen and Cara Gansk of Premiere Stages; in front, playwright Tatyana Manousakis, Arts Access performing arts coordinator Burt Brooks, and playwright Cheryl Chapin. (photo by Jerry Dalia).

The Arts Access Program uses a unique method to ensure complete creative ability of its artists, most of whom are in wheelchairs and have limited mobility of their arms and legs; many are also non-verbal. Facilitators, who are trained artists, work with the Arts Access artists to execute the artwork they envision, whether it’s painting, choreography, playwriting or other disciplines. Matheny, said Eileen Murray, director of Arts Access, is “thrilled and honored to be receiving the Leadership Award. The fact that a program such as CAN exists here in New Jersey is a sign that the future of arts and disability is a bright one.”

Learning about adapted sports

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Jackson Ketterson gets some pointers from Matheny student, Jameir Warren-Treadwell.

“It’s really fun! It’s a new style of playing.” That’s how Jackson Ketterson, a fourth grader at the Far Hills Country Day School (FHCDS) described the adapted versions of traditional sports demonstrated during a recent visit by students and staff at Matheny. The FHCDS students tried their skills in such activities as adapted basketball, wheelchair obstacle courses, and a special ball toss. “It’s really cool how they do things,” said Marissa Mikosh, and another student simply described the experience as “awesome.”

The visit had several objectives: to show the FHCDS students how their peers with disabilities can enjoy many of the same activities they do; to lessen unease about how to interact with people with disabilities; and to replace that unease with a sense of camaraderie as the two groups competed on a somewhat level playing field.

Far Hills Country Day is an independent, co-educational pre-kindergarten through grade eight school in Far Hills, NJ.

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Marissa Mikosh tries out a power wheelchair.

Daily Record Coverage of Miles for Matheny

Miles of volunteers

Jordan, left, and Courtney Smith of Bedminster handed out water bottles at Miles for Matheny 2014.

Jordan, left, and Courtney Smith of Bedminster handed out water bottles at Miles for Matheny 2014.

“Hi. I am interested in volunteering for the upcoming Miles for Matheny event. My family has recently relocated to Gladstone, and we’ve heard that this is a wonderful event and would like to help out in some way. Please let me know if you are in need of volunteers and in what capacity. Thank you.”

That email from new Gladstone, NJ, resident Kristen Huamani, is typical of the community support for the 18th annual Miles for Matheny, the fundraiser and community event being held this Sunday, May 31, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ. All five members of the Huamani family will be volunteering that day along with more than 400 others who will be doing things like distributing t-shirts, processing registration, handing out water bottles, greeting Matheny students and patients as they arrive in the park, painting faces, walking with wheelchair participants, forming cheering sections along the wheelchair walk route, cleaning up and helping people park their cars at Pfizer.

Groups include the Junior Friends of Matheny (mainly high school students from Bernards and Ridge), members of the Peapack–Gladstone-based Lone Eagle Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, employees of Peapack–Gladstone Bank and several other school and church groups.

A new group, “PG Loves Matheny,” will be participating in the Fitness Walk. Says member Donna Brooten of Gladstone: “There are many Matheny supporters in Peapack–Gladstone, and a one-mile Fitness Walk is the perfect way to show your support. Join the ‘PG Loves Matheny’ team on May 31 at 12:15 at Liberty Park.”

Events at Miles for Matheny include the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk, the new Fitness Walk, a Kids Fun Run and five different Cycling rides. A “Breakfast of Champions” will be available, courtesy of The Friends of Matheny. All funds raised will support programs and services that enhance the lives of the children and adults at Matheny and provide services for people with disabilities in the community.

Premier sponsor is The Poses Family Foundation. Other major sponsors include the Golub Family, Mariner Wealth Advisors, Partlow Insurance, Peapack–Gladstone Bank, Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. Attorneys at Law and WCBS Newsradio 880. For more information, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Residents of Mendham Road in Gladstone formed their own cheering section last year for participants in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk.

Residents of Mendham Road in Gladstone formed their own cheering section last year for participants in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk.

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.

Nursing challenge

Standing, from left, nursing students Bret Tokash, Jerome Bautista, Kathleen Duncil, David Hummer, Kelly Richard. In front, from left, Matheny students Jameir Warren-Treadwell and Shane Szott.

“We learn how to administer medications and communicate with non-verbal patients. It’s a challenge, but it’s been a really good experience coming here.” That comment by Bret Tokash of Stockton, NJ, was typical of the reaction of his fellow Raritan Valley Community College classmates, all nursing students who visit Matheny regularly as part of our sponsored nursing school program.

Affiliations with nursing schools such as RVCC’s have created a greater nursing community for the special care that Matheny’s population requires. And the nursing students are a source of recruitment for Matheny’s nursing department. Because of the diverse needs of Matheny’s patients, nurses have to be knowledgeable and competent in a broad spectrum of practice applications.

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