Slice of Rye
Matt Anderson, Proof-Positive
That Nice Guys Can Finish First
By Robin Jovanovich
While Matt Anderson has a firm grip on The Osborn, where he has been President and CEO since 2016, he’s also a “boy” of summer for the 16-week-long Rye Rec Adult Softball season. And when we interviewed him last week, his team, The Hammerheads, was up against the Roadhouse Regulars in the playoffs. He was ready for the big game and praying there wouldn’t be another rain out.
Anderson is the kind of guy people root for, whatever the playing field.
Twenty years ago, he was working as Director of Business Development at a health care facility in Saratoga Springs when longtime Osborn CEO Mark Zwerger tapped him to become Vice President of Health Care Services and oversee the skilled nursing facility.
“Mark gave me an amazing opportunity,” he said. “It was a handshake deal for the first five years.”
What’s kept Anderson there and growing is the employees and the residents with whom he’s developed deep personal relationships. “Some residents have been here as long as I have!” he noted with pleasure.
“What makes The Osborn special? It’s a wonderful real-life community. Residents watch movies, play bridge, take advantage of the library, and find renewed interest in pastimes they once enjoyed, such as painting.”
Readers are fortunate not only to have their own branch library (through the Rye Free Reading Room), but also to have the services of librarian Marjorie Shapiro three days a week. And among the residents are several retired librarians who are always happy to volunteer. “Marjorie has an innate sense of what books residents will want to borrow,” said Anderson, who enjoys being a board member of the Rye Free Reading Room.
One staff member who keeps Anderson and everyone else at The Osborn on their toes is Susie McNamee. “She’s in charge of Fun! (Her official title is Special Programs Coordinator.) One day she came into my office and suggested turning the auditorium into a night club. The next week it was stylishly outfitted, and couples were swaying to the sounds of Scott Wenzel’s orchestra.”
Anderson said the community can look forward to more stage theater. Singer Phoebe McBride, whose mother is a resident, recently had the joint jumping with Broadway show tunes. Dancers studying at SUNY Purchase try out their senior presentations at The Osborn before their final performance for their professors.
While most Osborn residents are octogenarians, it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy social gatherings and lifelong learning. “They bring their ideas to our regular meetings. We start with ‘Yes’ and ‘How can we do it?’”
One resident suggested a memoir-writing class, which has become very popular; another thought it would be fun to hold a reception at which residents could share their wedding albums. Everyone had fun trying to ID who was who from the pictures on the corkboard display. The Osborn even has a Swinging Singers group, 30-strong.
“The seniors who come here — and there are now about 420 — have led good and long lives, and we want to make sure they continue on that path,” said Anderson.
Walking out to the specimen tree-filled property, this reporter noted that the flora seems to be receiving the same kind of loving attention. The number of 100-year-old trees is impressive.
The Osborn recently invited Rye Nature Center staff to come by and assess the health of the trees and Sav-a-Tree is doing a full analysis. “We’re looking forward to unveiling a GPS tree app this fall, when the trees are in all their glory,” said Anderson.
On Anderson’s long-range dream list is building more independent housing, and slightly larger units. “More and more seniors want to age in place, and they are going to want as many amenities as make sense. A club house would be at the top of that list.”
The weather held and Anderson had to go suit up for the softball game. He smiled while telling me that Jim Herbster, who manages The Hammerheads, still calls him “New Guy”, despite the fact that he’s played on the team for 20 years!
Chalk one up for Matthew Anderson, a man of youthful exuberance whose field of dreams stretches for miles.