Happy tunes

Tim McLoone and group home resident Missy Barrett.

Few events are as eagerly anticipated at Matheny as the annual holiday concert presented by Holiday Express, the all-volunteer band that delivers music, food, gifts and friendship to those in need during the holiday season. Holiday Express has been coming to Matheny since 2001, and several of the volunteer musicians are like old friends, just stopping by for a visit.

Tim McLoone, the leader and founder of Holiday Express, dedicated this year’s concert, held on December 8 in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, to “all the volunteers, social workers, therapists, all the staff members. You are so amazing for what you do for all of these wonderful people.”

From the Holiday Express theme song, “Nobody Ought to be Alone on Christmas” to the rollicking, interactive “12 Days of Christmas,” the afternoon translated into two hours of pure joy and happiness.

Thank you, Holiday Express. All the wonderful musicians who give so freely of their time truly make this a season of joy. Matheny is but one of 60 venues the group visits between mid-November and Christmas Eve.

From left, Holiday Express singer Doris Jackson, Cathy Wild of Bedminster, NJ, and her son James, a Matheny student.


Holiday Express: just friends and family

For Tim McLoone, founder and leader of Holiday Express, bringing his band to Matheny is like visiting old friends. He and his band of merrymakers have been visiting Matheny since 2001, and McLoone, left, knows a lot of the patients and students on a first-name basis.

This year’s concert, held Sunday, December 11, in Matheny’s Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, featured traditional holiday songs, along with the group’s signature song, “Nobody Ought to be Alone on Christmas” and the always challenging audience participation on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” During the performance, McLoone chatted up patients in the audience, telling them that Matheny is one of his favorite places.

Bedminster resident Byron Smith sang an original composition, “Santa’s Comin’.” Matheny father Jim Yedloutschnig of Cedar Grove played a hot trumpet, the Matheny Choir joined in and Holiday Express vocalist Pam McCoy displayed an incredible energy level, bounding all over the auditorium to encourage Matheny students and patients to join in the fun. Over the years, the concert has developed into a family affair as more and more parents and siblings of Matheny students and patients come to listen and become part of the interactive audience.

Holiday Express’ mission is to deliver music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those in need during the holiday season. The organization is made up of about 1,300 volunteers including more than 80 professional musicians. This year’s schedule encompasses 55 concerts between Christmas and New Year’s.

Below, adult patient Amanda Kochell receives a present from one of the Holiday Express elves.