On Friday, October 9, at the Hopewell Valley Mayors’ Breakfast, the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance celebrated nineteen years of Healthy Communities/Healthy Youth and recognized Detective Michael Sherman, a detective with the Hopewell Township Police Department and a member of the Alliance’s executive committee since 2009, as Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance “Volunteer of the Year.”
“Over these years Mike has shown a complete commitment to our at-risk youth,” said Municipal Alliance coordinator, Heidi Kahme as she introduced Detective Sherman. “ I have a little surprise for Mike. I reached out to some people you work with to say a few things about you.”
Many of the testimonials Kahme read about Detective Sherman’s achievements pertained to his ongoing commitment to mentoring local students in health, wellness, and safety, including helping teach Drivers Ed and speaking to students at local schools about a variety of issues such as heroin use and texting while driving.
“At the middle school, it has been a pleasure working with Mike Sherman over the years,” wrote Timberlane Middle School Vice Principal Darren Lewan. “He is attentive to individual student needs, not just in times of crisis. We have reached out to Mike many times as a liaison to the police department, but more importantly as another educator for students and parents. Mike has conferenced with students individually and has provided fair, firm, yet friendly advice for the future. After meeting Mike, it is evident that both students and parents view Mike as a role model for our community.”
“I would argue that it is pretty rare for a superintendent to know a local police officer as well as I know Mike Sherman,” wrote Dr. Thomas Smith, Hopewell Valley Regional School District Superintendent. “In my experience, he has always been professional, competent and more than anything, compassionate. He often works with our most at-risk students (and families). He goes out of his way to know these families and their histories and understand their situation. He works closely with district staff to ensure these students are attending school and getting the help he or she needs – checking in regularly. In my experience, his goal has always been to get these students help and support rather than forcing a legal solution. He has a hard job but he seems to do it with ease and I think much of his work we never see. He is an important asset to our community and I appreciate all he does for our district and our students.”
Assemblywoman Liz Muoio and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora offered proclamations recognizing Detective Sherman’s dedication to the Hopewell Valley community. And Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes also spoke regarding the County’s commitment to substance abuse prevention and recovery.
“On behalf of all of us here who are parents of kids in the school district, me being one of them, I just want to say how important it is for kids to know that they have a place to go when they are in trouble,” said Assemblywoman Muoio.
“It is an honor to work with the Hopewell Police Department, and Detective Sherman is an exemplar of going above and beyond,” said Assemblyman Gusciora.
In accepting the honor, Detective Sherman thanked the Municipal Alliance and the Hopewell Township Police Department and spoke about the groups’ impact in the community.
The guest speaker this year was Jean Gianacaci, president of Christine’s Hope for Kids, a Mercer County non-profit that serves to improve the lives of children in our area. Gianacaci spoke about her loss of her daughter, Christine, for whom the foundation is named and about the amazing support that this community offered her and her husband.
“It was the community that set the foundation for our foundation,” said Gianacaci. “We started it but it was Hopewell Valley that built Christine’s Hope for Kids. We are now five years old and have helped tens of thousands of kids, most of whom are in Mercer County…. We are still going strong and it is because of this community.”
The Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, also known as Healthy Communities Healthy Youth, facilitates coordination and communication between community groups, municipal governments, schools, businesses, and faith communities to work together to address substance abuse and promote healthy communities and healthy youth in Hopewell Valley.