Spotlights

Face of the Week: Matten Roy of Essex Elementary School

Team BCPS is made up of thousands of accomplished and interesting students, employees, and community supporters. “Face of the Week” introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS such an amazing mosaic of talent, caring, and commitment.
10/10/2017

Face of the Week: Matten Roy of Essex Elementary School

Matten Roy, his mother says, is an “old soul,” which might sound surprising about a boy who just turned nine years old not long ago.

But if you get to know Matten, a Grade 4 student at Essex Elementary School, you would understand that Melissa Roy does not exaggerate, even for a mom. “He has a huge heart, too,” she says. “He’s continuously trying to make others happy.”

That instinct kicked in on July 17, 2016, when a gunman shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, La., killing three. From his Essex home, Matten watched that incident and others where police were injured, and they affected him. Why? he asked himself. Why would anyone want to hurt those whose job it is to help and protect us?

“I just think of police as, like, sheepdogs,” he says today. “The sheepdogs are there to protect the sheep from the wolves. That’s how I see police officers and what they do for us.”

He had to do something. Talking with his mother, Matten at first took a thank you card to a local Baltimore County Police precinct. But a card didn’t seem substantial enough for Matten, especially in the days following Baton Rouge. Maybe he could help police officers by offering them something to eat, Melissa said, a nosh during their busy days, perhaps, or maybe a snack or breakfast at a local station.

Marshalling several businesses to donate goods and food and a fire hall for the venue, Matten hosted his first lunch later that summer, feeding about 40 officers. Encouraged, he scheduled a second luncheon for September 2016 and visited more local businesses for donations, gift cards, and merchandise for a free silent auction. Maybe they could attract more than 40 officers this time, once word got around.

Word got around. Matten fed more than 500 police officers at his second luncheon, and hundreds more for the third, fourth, and the fifth luncheon, the most recent at the end of September. To date, Matten and his “Sheepdog Challenge,” as it’s called, have raised more than $100,000 and fed some 2,000 officers from across Maryland.

“It makes me happy,” he says of his way of giving back. “It gives me a good feeling. I like to help out.”

Honoring those who serve

At first, Matten may not strike the casual observer as a mover and shaker. He is friendly and personable, but like many Grade 4 boys, he can be shy, too. But get him talking about one of his passions – many of them dealing with men and women in uniform – and he comes alive.

A World War II history buff, he is quick to demonstrate his knowledge: “How many people stormed the beaches on D-Day?” he asks. He recently built a Mark V tank out of Legos and a Sherman tank out of Mego Blocks, he says. And he loves reading about history; he just got a book out of the Essex school library about WWII bomber planes.

“I was four when I started to get interested in World War II,” he says. “I’m not sure why, though.”

His favorite class at Essex is gym, but he also enjoys social studies, health, and science. After school, he spends each Wednesday mustering with the Young Marines organization, a character-building program for children from age 8 to high school.

For much of his time, however, Matten and his mom plan for the next luncheon and how they can continue to honor law enforcement officers. So far, they have joined with restaurants including Mission BBQ, Texas Roadhouse, Lib’s Grill, Chik-Fil-A, Pizza John’s, Libertore’s, and Crazy Tuna. Merchants such as Smyth Jewelers have offered free door prizes for officers who come to the FOP halls that now house the luncheons. 

Matten’s effort has earned him plenty of new friends, too; pictures of him with officers from across the state adorn the Sheepdog Challenge page on Facebook, and a local television news crew recently came to a luncheon to record Matten’s contributions.

“Mostly the officers tell me, ‘This is a wonderful thing you’re doing for us,’” Matten says. “That, and ‘Thank you.’”

More work to do

Matten says he’d like to expand the luncheons to include more restaurants, more prizes for officers, and more events. He’s also content right now to focus on schoolwork at Essex; it’s his first year there after attending Vincent Farm Elementary School and being home-schooled.

In September, Matten’s work led to him being selected as the 2017 recipient of the Sgt. Mark F. Parry Distinguished Service Award from the Police Emerald Society of Baltimore. The award, for his “continued efforts and continued support of Law Enforcement,” according to a letter received from the Police Emerald Society, will be presented in November.

His mother Melissa, who works as a fire dispatcher for Anne Arundel County, supports the work that her son has begun. And she’s gratified at the support that has come back for Matten and his work for his police friends.

“One of the best parts of having these luncheons is making the phone calls about the prizes after,” she says on the Sheepdog Facebook page. “I always get, ‘Melissa who?’ Then I explain. ‘Oh, Matten’s mom!’ I love being known as that. That child makes me so proud. And it does my heart wonders to know he’s so loved.”

Following his passions, Matten dreams of a career either as a Marine, an historian, or as a police officer. For now, he’ll work on getting his friends knowledgeable and interested in helping to say thanks and give back to the region’s police men and women.

And what does he tell his friends about his work honoring law enforcement?  “I . . . tell them,” Matten says, somberly at first and then with a grin, “I tell them that this is what I like to do.”

For those interested in contributing to Matten Roy’s luncheon project, contact sheepdogchallenge@gmail.com or call 410-458-5914. To learn more about the project, go to www.facebook.com/mattensheepdog.

Do you know of a special person who would be a good candidate for the BCPS “Face of the Week”? Let us know! Send their name, contact information, and what makes them special to cherndon@bcps.org.  

For more photos, visit the album at the BCPS Flickr page.

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