Learning from a ‘Retail University’

Book signing at It’s All Good. From left, Matheny teacher Darlene Tammara, Raven Bennett, Matheny speech-language pathologist Brynna Cunningham and It’s All Good store manager Diane Gerber.

Matheny School student Raven Bennett has written a book called “Heart Attack” that tells the story of a relationship through poetry. Bennett’s poems reflect different stages of a typical relationship and the journey a person takes through a relationship.

Bennett’s accomplishment, in and of itself, is quite impressive, but now that the book has been written, she wanted to market it more aggressively. Enter It’s All Good, a store in Somerville, NJ, operated by Bridges to Employment, the supported employment division of Alternatives, Inc., a nonprofit social service organization that has been providing a variety of services to those with special needs in the community since 1979. Through a grant from the Kessler Foundation, Alternatives was able to create a “Retail University” to provide job training and readiness assessments to individuals with brain injuries, neurological impairments and other disabilities.

Through the Retail University program, Bennett learned about event planning and was able to hold a book signing at It’s All Good on October 24. She also learned how to create an email campaign using a professional email server in order to market the event and create a list of followers. At the signing, Bennett sold 16 books, and she donated the proceeds to her church in Bound Brook, NJ

From the heart

Raven was visited by Bedwell School principal Amy Phelan.

The idea behind Ability Day, held at the Bedwell Elementary School in Bernardsville, NJ, on May 30, was to “Take the ‘Dis’ Out of Disability.” Fourth graders, said tech and design teacher Allen Thurlow, developed inventions to help people overcome disabilities and displayed them in the gymnasium for students from the other grades to see.

Bedwell also invited The Matheny School to have a small table display at which we distributed information. The main attraction at the Matheny table, though, was 20-year-old student Raven Bennett, who has written a book called Heart Attack that tells the story of a relationship through poetry. The poems reflect different stages of a typical relationship and the journey a person takes through a relationship.

Raven had a copy of the book at the table and told visitors how they could purchase it at Amazon.com. One visitor, Bill Fosina of Gladstone, NJ, whose granddaughters attend Bedwell, said he was going to order the book and then visit Matheny so Raven could sign it. There are currently two customer reviews of Heart Attack on Amazon. One customer, Gloria J., said, “It gave insight into a young person’s life expressed through her own poetic words. One could relate and feel the inner passions of each phrase of her life as it unfolded.” Another customer reviewer, D. Dunn, added: “I can’t wait for another book from this author. The poems are very thought-provoking and mature for someone of her age.”

Thank you, Bedwell School, for making Matheny part of your Ability Day!

Bill Fosina reads one of Raven’s poems while the author looks on.