Giving Back

Somerville Neighbor Extends Help to Widow of Fallen Police Officer Matthew Tarentino

Summit Police Detective Matthew Tarentino Credits: Courtesy Summit Police
Design Center of Somerville owner Thomas Sfisco in the showroom of the interior design studio and furniture store. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Design Studio of Somerville owner Thomas Sfisco, left and Cynthia Stabile, senior interior designer. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Design Studio of Somerville Credits: Rod Hirsch
Thomas Sfisco's remodeled kitchen was featured in "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine Kitchen and Bath issue of April, 2010. Credits: Rod Hirsch

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Like so many others who live in this tight-knit borough, Thomas Sfisco was stunned when he first heard the news about his neighbor Matthew Tarentino, the 29-year-old Summit police officer who was killed May 30 in a three-car motor vehicle accident on Route 78.

Sfisco had seen Tarentino just a few weeks before, walking past his house.

Dedicated to staying in top physical shape, Tarentino was a familiar sight running on the streets throughout the borough;  Sfisco asked whether there was anything wrong.

Sign Up for E-News

“I had just walked outside to the driveway from my kitchen and noticed him across the street walking, which I found bizarre; he never walks; he was always running past like a gazelle.

“I asked him, ‘Matthew are you all right? I offered to drive him home,” Sfisco said.

“I think I just popped my knee let me try and walk it off down to the corner,’ Tarentino responded, according to Sfisco.

Sfisco first met Tarentino when he and his wife, Victoria were walking their newborn first child in a carriage past his house; Tarentino’s parents lived around the corner from Sfisco.

Both Tarentino's and his wife’s family, the Cullens have lived in the borough for three generations. The couple graduated from Immaculata High School, and attended Immaculate Conception RC Church.

Sfisco, who graduated Somervile High School in 1982, lives in the house he grew up in as a child, and is also a third-generation resident of the borough.

Immaculate Conception RC Church on Mountain Avenue hosted a memorial service for Tarentino Sunday, June 4 and a funeral mass June 5, followed by a procession of police officers, families and friends to Resurrection Cemetery in Piscataway for graveside services. The procession drove past the Tarentino’s home.

Thousands of people were in Somerville both days to pay their respects.

Tarentino was promoted to Detective posthumously by the Summit Police Department following the accident.

Sfisco, owner of Design Studio of Somerville, 67 W. Main St., now finds himself in a position where he can help Tarentino’s widow, Victoria and their two young sons, Robbie, 3 and Ray, 2. The couple is expecting their third child in August.

Lee Industries, a North Carolina furniture maker and upholstery manufacturer in operation for 44 years, sponsors a bi-annual community outreach program with its retailers in February and July called “Lee Loves Local.”

Sfisco has been doing business with Lee for years; Lee’s furniture – sofas, love seats, ottomans and benches, dining room and bedroom sets - are displayed throughout the Design Center showroom; catalogs full of upholstery samples sit on sofa cushions, glass shelves and flat surfaces, with a rack of samples in the basement office and workshop.

Lee deducts five percent from each invoice for new orders submitted by its retailers during the month of July and returns that money to the retailer in the form of a donation for a designated charity or cause. Sfisco discussed the program with Cynthia Stabile, his longtime senior interior designer; both knew immediately what they would do.

Stabile, friends with the Cullen family, reached out to tell them about the program before moving forward.

Somerville Design Studio will match that five percent donated by Lee and will donate 10 percent of all Lee sales in the store during the month of July to the online fund established for Tarentino’s young family by the Summit PAL in the days following Tarentino’s death.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, donations totaled $587,393. The site can be accessed online at

A Message of Thanks was posted to the website on June 12 by Vickie Tarentino’s siblings. It reads:

"We, the siblings of Detective Matthew and Vickie Tarentino, can never thank the Summit PAL enough for the tremendous gesture of starting this fund in Matt's memory for our sweet sister and their young children.

During these most devastating days, the kind words, memories, prayers, and most certainly the generous donations are humbling and comforting, and will make their navigating the road ahead just a little easier. We are so deeply appreciative.

On behalf of our sister, we extend her most sincere awe and gratitude for everything that has been done to honor Matt and comfort her family during this time."

The Design Studio of Somerville is open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-4 p.m.

Call (908) 685-1921 for further information.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

March 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

March 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Middlesex Democrats Endorse Menendez, Pallone, Watson Coleman, Rios and Narra

METUCHEN - The Middlesex County Democratic Organization today endorsed Robert Menendez for Senate, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Freeholder Director Ronald Rios and Freeholder Shanti Narra for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Over 300 committee people came out to participate in the convention. 

“From Washington to New ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...


March 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.

The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a ...

Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis For Congress Campaign Kickoff Reception

Come enjoy an evening on Farrington Lake in North Brunswick in support of the effort to elect Daryl in NJ’s 12th Congressional District and send A Force For Freedom to Washington.

*Dinner & Open Bar*

7-9 p.m.

Monday, April 9th, 2018
130 Washington Place
North Brunswick, 08902

$100 Ticket Price
$250 Silver Sponsor
$500 Gold Sponsor
$1,000 Platinum Sponsor
$2,700 ...

Celebrate National Ag Day at the Middlesex County EARTH Center

EARTH CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Consider this: just about everything we eat, wear and use comes from agriculture. That is why America’s farmers and their crops are celebrated each year on National Ag Day, which falls this year on March 20.


To honor this day, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County has planned a new seminar entitled The State of ...