Ceramics in the park

Some of the ceramics pieces to be exhibited at Art in the Park.

Handmade glazed ceramic pieces made by students in Matheny’s adult services program will be on display and be offered for sale at Peapack-Gladstone’s Art in the Park event, being held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 14, in Liberty Park on Main Street.

Some of the ceramic pieces, according to Matheny adult services instructor Jodi Miguel, were made by the adult students individually and others were made collaboratively. “They range from functional pottery works to abstract clay forms,” she says. The biggest collection being sold at Art in the Park, however, will be jewelry—clay pendants and strung beads.

Matheny’s adult education programs are designed to instill a sense of self-respect and provide an opportunity for self-expression for adult residents and adult day health services patients, and the ceramics program teaches them the fundamentals of working in clay, incorporating the elements of design and principles of art.

Art in the Park began in 2000. Sponsored by the P-G Recreation Commission, it is a showcase for a variety of fine art and crafts as well as an introduction to talented student artists. Besides the art, the event includes musical entertainment and refreshments.

Ceramics jewelry, the biggest category to be shown at Art in the Park.

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‘Rewarding experience’

Nikki with Matheny student Aidan McNamara and teacher Karen Deland.

Twice a month, Nikki, a seven-year-old standard poodle from Bridgewater, NJ, comes to Matheny along with her owner, Dorothy Dameo. Nikki is a pet therapy dog, trained to visit venues such as hospitals, nursing homes and senior care facilities. She has been visiting Matheny for five years, and Dameo says the visits are a very rewarding experience because “you can see the children responding positively to her.”

Pet therapy is beneficial to both the physical and mental health of Matheny’s students and patients. The visiting dogs lift their spirits, provide comfort and encourage socialization. Pet therapy is also therapeutic because, says Dameo, “the children use some motor skills they wouldn’t normally use.”

Nikki was certified as a pet therapy dog by St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ. She is one of about half a dozen pet therapy dogs who visit Matheny’s students and patients regularly.

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Connecting with patients

Cathy Church with Matheny president Steve Proctor, left, and Gary E. Eddey, MD, vice president and chief medical officer.

Cathy Church’s arrival at Matheny 22 years ago was spontaneous—“really by accident,” she said. However, the fact that she stayed for more than two decades before deciding to retire this September was no accident. “Once I actually got to Matheny,” she recalled, “I found it was such a comfortable environment. It’s an uplifting place. The connection you have with the patients here—you feel it every day, no matter what discipline you’re working in. Everybody gets that connection.”

In 1993, Church and her husband were living in Staten Island, NY., where she was working full-time in a long-term care facility. However, they had a summer residence in Cranberry Lake in Byram Township, NJ.  “I had seen an article about Matheny in the newspaper, and Peapack was exactly halfway between my two homes, so I just visited one day. I was hired as a primary nurse and decided to make the switch.”

Seven months later, Church was asked to take over the management of the personal care assistant (PCA) staff. Matheny’s patients need assistance in many areas such as eating, transferring, bathing, dressing, oral hygiene and toileting. PCAs play a unique role in providing the most basic care for the patients. “I loved working with the direct care staff,” Church said. “They’re the unsung heroes. They make everything else happen for the patients; they are involved in every aspect of the patients’ care.”

Once Church realized she was going to stay at Matheny, she and her husband moved to nearby Basking Ridge and then settled permanently in Cranberry Lake in 2002. She became chief nursing officer in 2006 and, under her leadership, the PCA department became a more integral part of the nursing department. “When I came in,” she recalled, “the PCA department operated as its own entity. It had its own organizational structure, its own supervisors. It wasn’t as connected with nursing as it should have been. We had to make changes to make it more unit-based. The nursing supervisors now manage the PCA schedules and all the logistics.”

Nursing at Matheny is different from acute care hospitals, Church said, “because you’re handling everything about patients’ wellness from beginning to end. They’re not coming in for an acute problem, getting that fixed and being discharged. You’re dealing with all of the associated conditions they have, to keep them well. You’re not going to cure them, but you want to keep them well so that they can be involved in everything Matheny has to offer to the extent it’s possible. You’re really looking at them in a very holistic way.”

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Once a volunteer…now a shopper

Doris Stout, left, with Second Chance manager Linda Horton.

The Friends of Matheny’s thrift shop, The Second Chance Shop, was open for a one-day preview on Wednesday, August 14, and to say the store was crowded would be an understatement.”It’s like Walmart,” one of the volunteers was overheard commenting.  ”There are so many people, we’ll have to call security.”

An unexpected shopper was 93-year-old Doris Stout, a resident of Pottersville, NJ, who was one of the Second Chance Shop’s founding volunteers. “A friend of mine, Betty Martin of Basking Ridge, and I signed up 30 years ago,” she recalled. She gave up her post because, she said, “I can’t stand up for a long time anymore.” But that didn’t stop her from coming back as a customer.

Money raised by the Second Chance Shop is donated to Matheny to be used for equipment, technology and other gifts that directly assist Matheny students and patients. The shop’s new season will resume on Tuesday, September 2.

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Enhancing emerging skills

Preschool teacher Dawn Williams with one of her students.

“Thank you, Matheny, for making our dreams come true.” Those words from the parents of a Matheny School preschool student reflect the peace of mind families of children with disabilities feel when their son or daughter is enrolled in our preschool program.

The caring and professional learning environment in the Matheny preschool program enables children to grow towards independence, while offering support for families. The program integrates nursing and intensive individualized physical, occupational and speech therapies into the classroom. The goal is to enhance the emerging skills of each child while fostering a fun, exciting learning and social environment.

Preschool at Matheny is offered as a full school day or in variations based on the specific student’s individualized education plan.  For more information, call (908) 237-0011, ext. 237.

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Support for Arts Access

“Okaloni Palace” by Cheryl Chapin, part of the “Access-ABILITY” exhibit at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ.

Matheny’s Arts Access Program, which empowers individuals with disabilities to create art without boundaries, received a $34,267 grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The grant was among several awarded at the Arts Council’s annual meeting held July 29 in Trenton.

“Today’s actions,” said Elizabeth Mattson, NJSCA chair, “mean invaluable organizations, programs and individuals across New Jersey will have the means to do what they do best through the arts – shape communities and change lives.” Arts Access director Eileen Murray expressed her gratitude to the Arts Council “for their support and belief in the Arts Access Program. With their generosity, we continue to fulfill our mission of bringing artistic freedom and creative expression to people with disabilities.”

Arts Access was also one of 33 organizations receiving a Citation of Excellence, presented by the Arts Council to honor “New Jersey arts organizations, programs and projects that receive the highest possible assessment of their Council grant applications by esteemed, independent panels of their peers.”

Untitled by Michael Martin, part of the Arts Access exhibit at the Collaborative Art Exhibition at Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School in Newark.

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Improving oral health

From left, Antonella “Antie” Celli, assistant vice president, branch manager, Investors Bank, Pluckemin, NJ, branch; Jennifer Crohn, Matheny development officer; Steve Proctor, Matheny president; and Ada Melendez, Investors Bank vice president, director of community development, and Investors Foundation trustee.

The Investors Foundation, established in 2005 by Short Hills, NJ-based Investors Bank, exists to enrich the lives of New Jersey and New York citizens by supporting initiatives in health and human services as well as in the arts, education, youth development and affordable housing.

The foundation recently donated $5,000 to Matheny, complementing other grants from Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation, Summit Area Public Foundation and Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation, to help Matheny acquire a new Vatech Pax-I digital panoramic x-ray machine for the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry. Panoramic x-ray equipment is essential for detecting undeveloped, crowded or impacted teeth. Because these conditions and jaw deformities are more prevalent among individuals with significant disabilities, panoramic imaging is especially important in the Center of Medicine and Dentistry’s dental clinic.

Services in the dental clinic include x-rays, cleanings, treatment of cavities, extractions, restorative dentistry, oral surgery, root canals, behavior management, cancer screening and biopsies. The services are provided in partnership with the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

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Sneak peek at Second Chance

Second Chance Shop is ready for business.

“We’re ready to rock!”

With those words, Sandy Harrison of Bedminster, NJ, and Josephine Badger of Gladstone, NJ, put the finishing touches on the merchandise displays in the Second Chance Shop, the thrift shop operated at 4 Church St. in Gladstone by The Friends of Matheny, the auxiliary group that raises funds to benefit Matheny’s students and patients.

On Wednesday, August 13, bargain shoppers will get a preview of the merchandise to be featured this fall during “First Chance at Second Chance,” a one-day reopening of the store from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. According to Linda Horton, the Matheny trustee and Peapack, NJ, resident who manages Second Chance, about 19 volunteers—17 women and two men—worked “to completely fill the shop with fresh merchandise, which is now almost all priced and ready to go.” During Second Chance’s regular selling season, which begins on Tuesday, September 2, about 130 volunteers take turns as salespeople in the shop.

Badger, who retired 12 years ago as the Peapack postmaster, has been volunteering at the shop for about 10 years. “I enjoy seeing people coming in and finding all kinds of treasures,” she said. “And, it’s for a good cause.” Harrison has been volunteering at the shop for about five years. “The best time is Halloween,” she said, “but people also come in looking for items for theme parties. For example, someone was having an Oscar-watching party, and she was looking for all kinds of movie styles.” At the end of the season, everything goes on sale, and Harrison remembers some people who came in “and bought all these clothing items for $1 apiece and sent them to people in need in other countries.”

The Friends of Matheny recently presented Matheny President Steve Proctor with a check for $100,000 from the Second Chance shop’s sales last year. That money will be used in the coming year to acquire equipment, technology and other gifts that directly impact Matheny’s students and patients. Among the items funded this past year by proceeds from Second Chance were “Chill Out Chairs,” used to help with alternate positioning for Matheny students and patients; installation of a video screen/projection system for one of the patient dining rooms; and a wide variety of adaptive devices and equipment.

Josephine Badger, left, and Sandy Harrison.

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‘Dream come true’

The ‘Dream Come True’ exhibit.

Pearl Chiang, RN, a nurse on Matheny’s adult red zone, is also an accomplished artist. Her artwork is currently on exhibit at the Bridgewater Township, NJ, Library through August 30. Chiang became a nurse after her son was diagnosed with diabetes 13 years ago. Her art, she says, helps relieve stress and helps her find inspiration in ways she didn’t know were possible.

Chiang, who has enjoyed painting since she was a child, always starts with a pencil sketch, followed by a watercolor pencil. “Then, after the watercolor pencil,” she says, “I try to use some material such as oil paint or a special effect like embroidery or a pearl to make it come to life.” Chiang’s paintings are always colorful and often depict beautiful women. This exhibit, the third at the Bridgewater Library, also includes paintings of animals and birds. And it’s anchored by a large-scale 3D painting she calls “Mermaid.”

The library is located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater. Hours are Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Solutions for schools

Matheny physical therapist works with a student in the Roxbury Township School District.

As public school districts prepare for the coming 2014-15 school year, they are faced with enormous challenges in order to provide the best possible education for their special needs students.  Matheny’s Solutions for Schools program is designed to help districts meet these challenges.

Through the Solutions program, we offer:
• Specialized Evaluations.
• Therapy Services.
• Home-Based Services.
• Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Technology.

Matheny views public school districts as partners. Our breadth of experience and expertise educating and caring for students with developmental disabilities enables us to provide services that will benefit special needs students and families in the community.

For help or information regarding those services they are not able to provide in-house, school districts should call (908) 234-0011, ext. 220, or email cbowen@matheny.org

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