After a car accident in 1996 left Justin Matylewicz with a traumatic brain injury, impairing his short-term memory and motor skills, he and his mother Melissa began searching for the perfect assistance/support dog to help Justin with his day-to-day routine.
When Caesar, an untrained but intelligent brindled boxer, bounded into their lives about two years ago, they knew they had found the perfect dog for Justin.
“Caesar’s a good, strong dog – very smart and Justin loves him,” says Melissa.
The only problem is that Caesar has no training as a support/assistance dog, and Justin’s needs surpass Caesar’s current skill.
A one-month training course for Caesar to become a support/assistance dog costs about $4,000, far more than the Matylewicz family can afford by themselves.
It was only by chance that Tom Chiarella, while at a local deli, overheard Melissa Matylweicz’s predicament and offered his help.
The owner of a local business, he said he'd be happy to arrange a tag sale.
“I just happened to meet her that day, and I’d been looking to get my business involved in the local community. It just made sense,” says Chiarella, who opened on Norwich-Salem Turnpike about four months ago.
Chiarella managed to organize the entire event in two short weeks, scheduling the event for Saturday.
“I couldn’t believe how fast he put everything together,” Melissa says.
With the help of his wife, son, and business partner Sam Hotchner, Chiarella organized toys, designed and distributed a flyer, and rallied local business to set up tables at the tag sale.
Vendors will pay $20 per table, all of which will be donated to the Matylewicz family. The vendors that have signed up so far plan to sell a wide variety of items including household goods, dolls, and jewelry. Chiarella plans to offer an array of antiques and collectables such as vintage posters and action figures.
He predicts that about 10 to 15 vendors will show up Saturday, but says that anyone who wishes to show up that morning and donate the $20 is welcome to set up their own table.
“We’d love to have 100 vendors if we could,” he says.
In addition to the tag sale vendors, , which is currently expanding to include a breakfast place called Sunny Side Up, offered to provide breakfast for the vendors and patrons, and pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds to Caesar’s training.
Justin’s mom, Melissa, will also have a table at the tag sale, selling dog biscuits from her pet treat business, and a family friend plans to sell baked goods.
“I’m glad we were able to get the whole community together to contribute to the event, and I’m excited to see how it goes,” says Chiarella.
Justin is excited about the tag sale, too.
“I think it’s great. I really hope we get enough vendors and stuff so that I’m able to pay to have my dog trained,” Justin says.
The tag sale will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday at 627 Norwich-Salem Turnpike at the intersection of Rt 163 - Mattwood Plaza. For further information about obtaining a table or making a donation, please call 860-367-1738.