The Perfect Gift for Giving Tuesday 2017

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.

Melvin R

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:

2017 #GT Lock Up_0

Full Circle 2017: Art of Possibility

This year’s Full Circle will feature some of Matheny’s most talented individuals!  When you purchase tickets to this special event, you are supporting incredible artists who know no limits!

FC 17 Post Card landscape

Read the New Issue of Matheny Matters!

Ride on!

Cyclists will have new routes this year.

The five cycling routes at the 15th annual Miles for Matheny will have a new look. After three years with the same routes, Lee Brush, a resident of Annandale and former president of the Bedminster Flyers cycling club, felt it was time for a change. The 12-mile route is now 10 miles, the 23-mile route is now 25 miles and the 32-mile ride is now 35 miles. The 50 miles and Hills of Attrition rides will remain the same.

The 10-mile distance is the “family friendly” route. In the past, it hadn’t been so friendly because there were some difficult hills and the route crossed a highway.

All cycling rides will use the Whitehouse Station branch of our cycling sponsor, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, as a rest stop, reducing our rest stop locations from four to one. This will make delivery and pickup of supplies easier and should be more interesting for the riders and volunteers at the stop.

Miles for Matheny will be held Sunday, April 22, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ. The 50-mile and Hills of Attrition rides take off at 10 a.m.; 25 and 35-mile rides start at 10:45 a.m.; and the 10-mile ride leaves at 11:45 a.m.

Miles for Matheny also includes a Kids Fun Run at 11:30 a.m.; a 5K race at 12:15 p.m.; and the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk at 1 p.m. All funds raised help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny’s inpatients and to children and adults with disabilities in the community.

For more information, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Our pharmacy is open for business

Celebrating the official opening of the Matheny in-house pharmacy are, from left: Cathy Church, RN, director of nursing services; Denise Bettinger, Certified Pharmacy technician (CPht); Donna Mustillo, RPh; Steve Proctor, Matheny president; Robert Wysocki, pharmacy director; and David Wong, Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD).

Matheny dispenses between 62,000 and 65,000 doses of medication a month to our 101 inpatients, so the need for an in-house pharmacy has been apparent for some time. That goal has finally been accomplished, under the leadership of the pharmacy’s director, Robert Wysocki. The main advantage to having a pharmacy in-house, he points out, is “the clinical interaction between us and the doctors and nurses. Now, if there’s an issue, we can just walk down the hall.”

Many of the children and adults who live at Matheny, in addition to their primary diagnoses, have a long list of associated clinical conditions such as seizure disorders and dysphagia, with resulting aspiration problems. Because of these medically complex conditions, the proper medications are critical to their well-being.

Improving computer skills

Computer access is a vital tool in helping improve the quality of life for Matheny students and patients.

Matheny has received a Quality of Life grant of $7,431 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in the Assistive Technology Initiative category. The grant will enable Matheny to acquire eye tracking equipment and scanning software “for kids that can’t use their hands to operate a computer but have good visual skills,” says Christine Mayercik, senior speech-language pathologist. “We’re hoping this will be a way to motivate them.”

At Matheny, technology is at the forefront of efforts to broaden our patients’ and students’ ability to live as normal a life as possible. Speech-language pathologists continually explore various ways to accomplish this.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation regularly awards grants to non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals with paralysis. Quality of Life grants are awarded to programs or projects that improve these individuals’ daily lives. Joseph Canose, a senior vice president at the Foundation, said the competition for funds this year was “extremely fierce.”

Put on your dancin’ shoes—for a good cause

Ryan O'Connor.

If you like to dance, want to help Matheny—or better yet, both—save Friday, April 20. That’s the date for the Dance-A-Thon at Immaculate Conception School in Annandale, NJ, which this year will benefit Matheny.

Debbie O’Connor, whose eight-year-old son Ryan is a student at the Matheny School, is the Social Concerns chair of Immaculate Conception’s Home and School Association. She suggested Matheny as this year’s beneficiary, saying, “Matheny tries to provide these children with every opportunity to experience life at the highest quality possible. They set no boundaries for any of these children but allow them to thrive in a safe medical environment.”

Sharing her own experience, she said, “We were told there was no chance Ryan would ever walk. On Christmas Day 2008, at the age of almost six, Ryan stood up and walked, completely unassisted for an extended period of time. This would never have been possible if he were not in the hands of the staff at Matheny.”

For more information, contact Debbie O’Connor at

Matheny’s court appeal

Matheny has filed an appeal in New Jersey Superior Court to overturn the Peapack-Gladstone Land Use Board’s decision that Matheny is not a “permitted use” in its current location. The Land Use Board made this decision even though Matheny has existed in its current location since the 1950s and has received many land use approvals for various projects over the years.

The appeal also seeks to overturn the Board’s decision to deny Matheny’s expansion plans. The long period of time that elapsed during the Land Use proceedings has exacerbated what was already a criticial situation — the number of children with medically complex developmental disabilities who need a residential facility.

Matheny is proud to be a member of the Peapack-Gladstone community and appreciates the support of the majority of its residents.


‘My wheelchair is a part of me’

Anthony LaFond, an artist in Matheny’s Arts Access Program, is celebrating the publication of one of his poems, “God’s Gift to Me” in the winter 2012 issue of Breath & Shadow, a journal of disability culture and literature. The 30-year-old LaFond, who has muscular dystrophy, has been writing since he was 17 years old. While he enjoys writing stories, his real passion is poetry.

God’s Gift to Me

My wheelchair is a part of me.
When he moves, it is like a tank under my control.

My wheelchair has a chair like a portable bed.
His wheels are round like a balloon.
And his motor moves me as fast as a 10-speed bike.

He is shaped like a throne that is sitting on top of the world.

He rides like he is flying me through the air.
The wind blows by like I’m going downhill on a rollercoaster.

Sometimes when I go fast, my eyes start to cry.
I feel what he feels.

He goes where I go, just like a shadow.
He tells me when he is hungry and tired.

Sometimes he reminds me, he has a mind of his own.
He shows me when he needs a change of feet.
His one eye glows at night when I need light.

He carries my bags all day long and never lets go.
He is my defense weapon against anyone who wants to hurt me.

His timing is one of a kind.
When I let go of his messenger, he stops on a dime.
When I need him to zig and zag, he does it with such skill.

He reminds me of who I am, and I am very thankful for that.
He reminds me of what I have and not what I don’t have.

He is God’s gift to me, and when he dies,
I will have to get another.

But each gift God gives me does not make me feel the same way.
They each have their own talent.

My chair’s name is Junior, after my first chair,
And I his father.

He is me
And I him,
And I shall never forget that.

LaFond, above, read “God’s Gift to Me” at Full Circle 2011 Dimensions, the annual celebration of the Arts Access Program. Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. Breath & Shadow is the only online literary journal with a focus on disability. It is written and edited entirely by people with disabilities.

New law eases research restrictions

Thanks to Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R), Sen. Robert W. Singer (R) and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (D) for sponsoring bills that were signed into law by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on January 17 providing families of persons with developmental disabilities greater autonomy in making decisions about participation in potentially beneficial research.

The original bill was drafted by Sen. Bateman in response to a suggestion by Matheny.

The law resolves an inconsistency regarding guardian requirements contained in two previous pieces of legislation: The Developmentally Disabled Rights Act of 1977 and the Access to Medical Research Act of 2007. It also expanded the range of studies that are allowed to include ones that might not have direct benefit to the individual participant, but might have broader benefit to persons with disabilities.

The practical benefit of the new law is that families of persons with developmental disabilities will have the freedom that other families enjoy to weigh the risks and benefits of an appropriately reviewed and approved research study. And they will make their own informed decisions about whether or not their family members will participate.

Above, from left: Matheny student Bryan Desatnick, teaching assistant Josh Burke, Sen. Bateman and student Mason Walsh during a previous visit to Matheny by the Senator.

A special art exhibit

“Pure Expression,” an exhibition opening February 12 at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ, will feature paintings by artists in Matheny’s Arts Access Program.  Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Through the use of specialized communication and choice systems, the artists are able to follow their creative passions and are encouraged to build upon their instincts and inner strengths. The ability to create fine art lets the artists define themselves by their achievements rather than by their disabilities. In addition to painting, the Arts Access Program encompasses digital art, sculpture, drama, writing, dance and choreography.

The Monmouth Museum is a private, non-profit organization located at 765 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft on the campus of Brookdale Community College. Admission is $7. The exhibit will begin with a reception, free and open to the public, from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, February 12. It will run through March 18.

For hours and additional information, call (732) 747-2266 or visit

Above, “Wisdom,” by Annie Paloff.

Below, “Beautiful Squares,” by Amy Ring.

Improving social skills

Matheny is planning a new series of social skills groups for children with special needs. Parents will learn techniques to facilitate their child’s social skills and ability to interact in a group. This group will mirror a typical preschool experience with songs, crafts, games and play. It will be a fun and therapeutic way for families to meet others in their communities and interact with their children.

We recognize the escalating need for social skills intervention for children on the autism spectrum as well as those having other developmental delays that impact social skills,

The series will focus on children 2 to 3 years of age and will be held in locations in Somerset and Morris Counties.

The classes will involve both child and parent participation and are designed for children with a diagnosis or symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and/or sensory integration difficulties.

For more information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 751, or email

Above, a Matheny speech-language pathologist works with a child in early intervention.

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