We Love the Friends of Matheny

Have you heard about our incredible friends and partners, the Friends of Matheny?

For over 30 years, they have raised close to $4 million to support Matheny’s programs. Thanks to the Friends, Matheny’s physical space and programs have been expanded, and our students, residents, and staff have enjoyed special trips and events. From volunteer work at the Second Chance Thrift Shop to offering the Breakfast of Champions at Miles for Matheny each year, the Friends give us so much, and we couldn’t be more grateful for them.

The Friends recently offered another financial contribution of $100,000! In these difficult and uncertain times, we are thrilled to have the generous and passionate Friends as part of our Matheny family!

Rest in peace, Larry. We miss you.

Message from the President of Matheny:

From time to time we have giants in the midst of our Matheny community.  These giants are not always the loudest, tallest, or demand the most attention, but quietly move behind the scenes steering through others.

Larry Thornton was one of those giants.  We feel privileged to have known Larry, who always seemed to push us and others to do more work on behalf of the students and patients that we serve.  Thanks to Larry we have LAR (The Learning Accessibility Robot), The Lowe’s Community Garden, a repaved nature trail, Home Depot planting boxes, a hydroponics station, and much more.  Larry developed and fostered a relationship between Matheny and Rutgers bio-engineering school which will develop new forms of assistive technology to help people worldwide.  Larry also brought in different Knights of Columbus Councils to Matheny to assist in fundraising.  Until recent health concerns prevented his participation Larry kept a regiment of volunteering three times a week in the school and also served on both the Matheny School Board Committee and the Board of Trustees.  Larry loved the children, the staff, and the spirit of Matheny.

Welcome visitors

Matheny resident Jessica Evans and volunteer Selma Ahmed.

“When you guys come here, you make my day brighter.” That’s how Matheny adult resident Jessica Evans greeted members of the eighth grade class at the Bedminster, NJ, School, when they visited on a recent Wednesday afternoon. For as long as anyone can remember, eighth graders from the school have been volunteering at Matheny once a week.

“It’s great to interact with the Matheny residents,” said student Selma Ahmed. “We all have fun.” On this visit, the Bedminster students started work on a banner they will carry in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk during Miles for Matheny, the fundraiser and community event scheduled for Sunday, May 31. Ahmed also found time to help Evans polish her nails.

The group from Bedminster is just one of several school groups who visit Matheny patients and students regularly. For more information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 282, or email volunteers@matheny.org.

Ariana Myers, left, and Jasmine Campos work on the Miles for Matheny banner.

Good luck charms

Long Valley Middle School wrestlers with honorary captains, Shane Szott, left, and Jameir Warren-Treadwell.

A group of Matheny residents served as honorary captains at the January 22 Grade School League wrestling match between the Long Valley, NJ, Middle School and Watchung Hills Middle School. Long Valley defeated Watchung Hills, 46-42, and the impetus to win might have been indirectly provided by the visitors from Matheny.

Several members of the LV wrestling team, along with some other LVMS students, have been volunteering at Matheny as part of the “Include Me” program; and they have developed close personal friendships with Matheny residents. About 14 Long Valley Middle School students visited Matheny weekly during this past summer; and they have continued their visits during the school year, although not as frequently.

Volunteers are needed at Matheny days, evenings and weekends. Individuals or groups can serve as recreation assistants, classroom aides, tutors or just friendly visitors. For more information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 282, or email volunteers@matheny.org.

Long Valley volunteer Ricky DeFrance with Matheny resident Jameir Warren-Treadwell.

Here we come a-caroling

Frances Steele and Matheny student India Jones.

For at least 10 years now, Jane Steele of Far Hills, NJ, has gathered family members, friends and neighbors to sing Christmas carols to Matheny students and patients. This year, her singing group arrived on the afternoon of December 23 and visited all three residential zones, taking requests and inviting Matheny residents to join in the singing.

The selections ran the gamut of popular songs of the season, but the most requested selection by far was “Jingle Bells.” Many of the younger carolers have also been volunteers through the years, so, in addition to celebrating the holidays, it was an opportunity to renew old acquaintances.

Volunteers are needed at Matheny throughout the year during weekdays, evenings and weekends.  Individuals can serve as recreation assistants, classroom aides, tutors or just friendly visitors. For more information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 282, or email volunteers@matheny.org.

Charlotte Steele with Matheny student Bianca Mathis.

Project runway

Irene Ellis, also of Gladstone, shows off her purchases as she gets set to celebrate her 87th birthday.

Every year, to thank all of the volunteers who have worked in The Friends of Matheny’s Second Chance Shop, manager Linda Horton has a party to celebrate their accomplishments. The only requirement for those attending is that they wear or show something they actually bought at the shop. This year’s event was held May 3 in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny, and no one was disappointed.

Some of the volunteers sported complete outfits, others just an accessory such as a hat, scarf or tie. And some confessed that they don’t buy clothes but, instead, toys for their grandchildren or household items such as dishes or vases. In the grandchildren category, the big buyer was Janet Allocca of Chester, NJ, who revealed that she has 19!

Irene Wiehle of Gladstone, NJ, in her very eclectic outfit.

At the time of the get-together, the Second Chance Shop had already surpassed $100,000 in sales with almost a month to go in the season, so there will probably be another party to celebrate a new record. Steve Proctor, Matheny president, thanked the volunteers for all their hard work and read off a list of items for the patients and students made possible by the money from their sales.

Spring planting

Sara Naylor and Jordan Perry-Fair with adult patient Luis Rodriguez.

Eighth-graders from the Madison Junior School in Madison, NJ, made their second trip to Matheny this school year to visit with  students and patients and to help out with a spring planting project.

Volunteers are always welcome at Matheny, as part of an organized group or as individuals, especially during weeknights or on weekends.

For information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 282, or email volunteers@matheny.org.

Desta Johnson with adult patient Rasheedah Mahali.