Long-Term Partnership

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Employees of Home Depot, Oldstone Building Materials, and Matheny gather at one of the Home Depot Bridgewater stores to celebrate their partnership.

What started out as a routine volunteer activity has developed into a solid, long-term partnership between The Home Depot and Matheny. Volunteers from Home Depot stores have planted gardens, spruced up our nature trail and ballfields, and, with the help of Oldstone Building Materials, installed new pavers in the patio area in front of the main entrance. But that’s just the beginning. Home Depot volunteers will be back in the spring to tackle a bunch of new projects.

Matheny employees visited one of Home Depot’s Bridgewater, NJ, stores recently to hand out certificates of appreciation and cement what has become a very strong relationship. We expressed thanks for Home Depot’s “dedication and commitment to our children and adults with special needs. The volunteer services you have performed have greatly enhanced their quality of life.”

How Sweet It Is!

After a 23-year run, John Tompkins of Basking Ridge, NJ, retired from his career on Wall Street. In April 2011, he started a new career inspired by his love for the caramels a childhood friend’s mother had made. His company, based in Randolph, NJ, is called JT’s Confections, and he modestly claims that, “My caramels are the best caramels you will ever eat.” He expanded from caramels into pecan clusters consisting of caramel poured over roasted pecans and hand dipped in rich chocolate.

The confections business, he says, “is so very different from Wall Street. Your competitors want to see you succeed!” Tompkins has succeeded, and he has also used his new vocation as a way of giving back to the community, providing candy to help nonprofits raise funds. Tompkins’s daughter, Georgia, a student at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, is an active member of the Junior Friends of Matheny, a group consisting mainly of Ridge and Bernards High School students who volunteer and raise money for Matheny.

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From left, Junior Friend Sarah Desatnick, John Tompkins, and Georgia Tompkins. Desatnick, also a Ridge student from Basking Ridge, is the sister of Matheny resident, Bryan Desatnick.

For Valentine’s Day, Tompkins is donating 100 boxes of clusters to the Junior Friends, who will sell them at $33 a box. “And if they sell more,” he says, “I’ll try to fill the order.” The Junior Friends of Matheny is open to all high school age volunteers. Its mission is to support Matheny through both fundraisers and volunteering and to bring awareness and acceptance of children and adults with disabilities.

Five Days of Fun

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Some of the Mardi Gras masks from last year’s celebration.

Once again the Verve Bistro in Somerville, NJ, will donate partial proceeds from its annual Mardi Gras celebration to Matheny. The five-day Mardi Gras celebration begins on Thursday, February 4. On that day — plus Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6 — the restaurant will feature food specials of New Orleans, Venice and Brazil. Diners will also have the opportunity to bid on Mardi Gras masks.

On Sunday, February 7, a Gumbo Cook Off will take place from 1-5 p.m., ending just in time for football fans to get home for the Super Bowl. Contestants are invited to bring two gallons of their best gumbo to Verve by 1 p.m. in order to enter. The Gumbo Buffet that follows will cost $10. Fat Tuesday, February 9, will offer “prizes, gaudy decorations, and cheap plastic trinkets.” And, everyone who bid on masks will find out who the winners were

Last year, Verve raised $2,000 for Matheny. To make reservations during the Mardi Gras celebration, call (908) 707-8655 and be sure to mention Matheny.

Teamwork in Physical Therapy

If Glenn Stackhouse hadn’t torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 1988 while playing for his Air Force squadron football team, chances are he wouldn’t be a physical therapist today. “While rehabbing from surgery,” the Wharton, NJ, resident recalls, “I became interested in what I was learning about my knee. Shortly after that, our squadron was volunteering for the Special Olympics, and we were asked to sign up to help. It was there I met a 32-year-old Navy veteran who was a physical therapy student at Southwest Texas State University.”

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Stackhouse with Matheny student Kim Alarcon, who uses a specialized Rifton gait trainer to help her maintain balance and safety while improving her walking skills.

Fast forward to 1992 when Stackhouse, working as a physical therapy aide at Dover General Hospital, applied for physical therapy school at Kean University. His first job after graduation was at the Mercer Medical Center in Trenton, but, in 2000, he joined Matheny in Peapack as a physical therapist in its community services program.

Stackhouse provided PT services to adults in the community with developmental disabilities and worked for 10 years bringing PT services to the Mendham Township School District. “I provided in-class support and worked to develop adaptive physical education strategies for district students with special needs.” While Stackhouse was working in the Mendham Schools, one of the classes was planning a field trip to Waterloo Village and was concerned that a student who was in a wheelchair wouldn’t be able to make the trip because of the rough terrain. Stackhouse contacted Matheny’s rehab technology department and came up with a wheelchair with high density wheels that could be used both as a power chair and manually. The Mendham Resource Center teacher was trained on how to use it, and the student was able to make the trip.

As part of Matheny’s community services program, Stackhouse also worked at the Morris and Sussex County Arcs, providing staff training for safety, back care basics, and adaptive equipment while also working as a physical therapist. In May 2005, the Morris County Arc presented him with its Healthcare Provider of the Year award. He also spent nine years as a Matheny physical therapist in the New Jersey Early Intervention Program, “working with the families of children under the age of three with developmental delays.”

Since 2008, Stackhouse has worked full-time in The Matheny School, and last year his colleagues voted him “Related Services Provider of the Year.” “Each day,” he says, “I am privileged to team up with the most committed, creative, and amazing people imaginable. Everyone works together for the benefit of the families and individuals we serve.”

Here Comes Skanska!

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From left, Skanska employees Lisa Mancuso and Young Moon and Matheny resident Jamie Formisano.

Volunteers from Skanska USA’s Parsippany, NJ, office made their annual visit to  Matheny  to deliver presents to our students and patients.  Sweden-based Skanska is one of the world’s leading construction groups. Skanska has a culture of giving back to the community. Its efforts are coordinated by a community involvement committee that schedules activities year-round.  The same four Skanska USA employees have been visiting Matheny for several years.

Holding Court

There were three-point attempts from several rows back in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center auditorium, layups and jump shots on the stage, and a helping hand for Matheny students and patients, who were playing adapted basketball games. It was all part of the annual visit to Matheny by members of the Delbarton School varsity basketball team.

Participation in sports is very important to Matheny’s students and patients who compete in Special Olympics, play a variety of adapted sports, and often attend high school, college, and professional games as part of Matheny’s recreation therapy program. The Delbarton visit is greatly anticipated every year, stoking competitive fires and resulting in a lot of fun and camaraderie.

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Davis Bell, left, gives Matheny student Shane Szott some tips, while his Delbarton teammate Kevin Schroeder looks on.

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Dan Cimaglia helps Matheny student Ryan O’Connor shoot a basket.

Delbarton is an independent college preparatory school in Morristown, NJ, for boys, grades 7-12.

 

A CARS Christmas

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Matheny group home resident Jenny Cox receives presents from Jason Boege of Farmingdale, NJ; Santa Claus (Tom Brophy of Randolph), and Shari Comerford of Jackson.

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CARS volunteers gathered with Matheny residents and staff for a group photo at the end of a fun-filled day.

In 1974, auto racing photographer Ace Lane, Jr. and three other auto racing enthusiasts founded the Committee of Auto Racing Supporters (CARS). For the past 41 years, the CARS organization has not only been dedicated to car racing; its members have gone out of their way to cheer up the children and adults at Matheny during the holiday season.

Every year, CARS volunteers throw a Christmas party for residents of Matheny and its group homes, bringing presents for those who do not have strong family connections during the holidays. The most recent CARS Christmas Party was held on Saturday, December 19, and the dining room at Matheny was filled with the Christmas spirit as the CARS members, from all over New Jersey and neighboring states, brought gifts and holiday cheer to Matheny’s students and patients.

Hitting the Right Notes

“We love you!” That’s how members of the Matheny Choir were greeted by a well-wisher from the audience as they made their annual appearance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark as part of the Holiday Express annual benefit concert on December 10. The choir sang “Snow Globe” and “Frosty” to standing ovations and then joined the Holiday Express band and singers for a rousing rendition of “Happy”, led by Holiday Express vocalist Lisa Rott.

Founded by Tim McLoone in 1993, Holiday Express has more than 100 professional singers and musicians who volunteer their time, along with an additional 1,300 volunteers. The band visited Matheny on November 22, one of about 60 appearances in November and December at hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes, and other places where people need cheering up.

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From left, choir member Corey Kent, music therapy director Lynn Coyle, music therapy intern Genevieve Scott, and choir member Bianca Mathis.

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Choir member Natalie Tomastyk, cheered on by a Holiday Express singer.

The choir is part of Matheny’s music therapy program, which uses various types of music to positively affect students’ and patients’ cognitive, physical, emotional, and social skills, helping them realize their potential in society.

Make Your Year-End Donation

Your generosity will help kids, teens, and adults with disabilities like four-year-old Rishu, one of the many children whose lives have been vastly improved because of the programs and services provided by Matheny.

Make your tax-deductible gift before midnight December 31.

DONATE NOW

 

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Thanks Again, Home Depot!

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Home Depot paving crew.

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Bridgewater Promenade store manager John Pingitore with Matheny student Jenna Poleyeff.

Oldcastle Building Materials provided the pavers, and a large group of Home Depot volunteers provided the muscle and additional materials and equipment as they installed the pavers in the front of Matheny’s main building to give a new look to the patio area.

This is not the first time Home Depot has supported Matheny by helping to improve the grounds and facilities. Back in April, a group of employees from both Bridgewater, NJ, stores planted gardens for a Matheny School project and performed major makeovers on the nature trail and ball field. This time, they were assisted by volunteers from additional Home Depot stores in Dover, Roxbury, and Watchung, NJ.

Once again, Home Depot lived up to its motto that, “Giving back is a fundamental value of The Home Depot and a passion for its associates.”

 

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