Matzek noted that children with some special needs can thrive in Catholic schools and that her son isn’t the only student at St. Bernadette School with Asperger.
The first year Matzek helped out as needed in her children’s classrooms. Things ramped up the second year. “They needed someone to do the school newsletter, so I thought that’s something easy that I can do,” said Matzek. “Once I started helping with the school newsletter I found out more about all the different ways you can help out and it kind of grew from there.”
She was the home and school association secretary for a year and co-president for two years. She coordinates the annual fun run that is held in conjunction with the fall fest at the school.
The HSA pays for field trips, classroom supplies for the teachers, equipment for gym and the art room, technology and playground equipment. “We basically (pay for) everything that’s not covered by the budget for St. Bernadette School, which has 167 students.”
There are other volunteer jobs at the school on Matzek’s plate. “When Alli was in first grade I started volunteering with the United for Reading. It’s a half-hour a day with two students, so it’s an hour a day (commitment). I help out on field trips. I’m the milk caps chair. I do the school’s Facebook page to help with communication.”
At the parish, Matzek coordinates the Campbell’s Soup label collection to raise funds for religious education. She’s also on the finance council. “Fr. Don Zuleger wanted (school) parents on the council. I also started up the Easter egg hunt with the parish. We were looking for ways to try to work more closely with the parish and try to get families involved from the parish. It’s a way to say thank you for parish support because they help fund the school through subsidies.”
Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: MaryBeth Matzek
Parish: St. Bernadette, Appleton
Words to live by: “Psalm 23, the good shepherd.”
In the community Matzek is a Girl Scout Brownie leader for third grade. She’s the “Popcorn Kernel” for her son’s Cub Scouts troop (coordinates the annual popcorn sale); she coached her daughter’s soccer team for several years and is now the team manager through the Appleton Soccer Club.
It’s a sacrifice for the Matzeks to send their children to a Catholic grade school, especially since, as a freelance writer, Matzek doesn’t have a guaranteed income. “We chose St. Bernadette’s because the academics are very strong here. The teachers and staff are great and there’s just that community and family-type feeling where you know everybody,” she said. “It’s a safe environment and they are basically living out the principles you hear in church on Sunday.”
It’s rewarding for Matzek to be able to help out at her children’s school and her parish. “I started volunteering as a way to get to know the other kids in the class,” she said. “The teachers get to know you and you get to know the staff. It kinds of builds up that community — you know the other families. It’s a nice feeling that I know all the kids my children hang out with. I feel like I’m making a difference.”