Helpwell Founders Honored at Hopewell Valley Mayors’ Breakfast, Mayors Discuss Valley Issues

    On Friday, October 20, 2017, Hopewell Valley mayors invited the community to the Hopewell Valley Mayors’ Breakfast, held at Capital Health-Hopewell, to celebrate 21 years of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance’s “Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth” initiative.

    “‘Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth’ is about positive development for children and teens, based on assets, or building blocks,” said Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance Coordinator Heidi Kahme, who introduced many elected officials in attendance including: Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski; Pennington Borough Mayor Tony Persichilli; Hopewell Borough Councilman Chris Fossel representing Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano; Assemblywoman Liz Muoio; Senator Shirley Turner; Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; Freeholders Ann Cannon, John Cimino, Pat Colavita, and Sam Frisby; Hopewell Valley Regional School Board President Lisa Wolff, and others.

    “I’m glad to participate and am marking 27 years of sobriety,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, speaking to the Municipal Alliance’s focus on teen drug and alcohol prevention. “I think what my life would have been if I had gotten prevention at the right time and right place.”

    Hopewell Borough Councilman Chris Fossel spoke about “Heads Up Hopewell,” a pedestrian and traffic safety initiative meant to raise road sharing and traffic awareness to prevent accidents in the Borough. For more on “Heads Up Hopewell,” visit this link. Fossel also boasted Hopewell’s amenities, such as the Hopewell Museum and the newly remodeled Hopewell Theater.

    Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski spoke about the importance of connections, saying that a “network is stronger the with more connections you have,” speaking about the Municipal Alliance, the Hopewell Valley community at large, and the mission of the honorees.

    Kuchinski addressed three initiatives in Hopewell Township. The first was the the soon to be renovated senior center in Pennington, which will done in partnership with the three municipalities of Hopewell Valley, the County, and thanks to a donation from Trap Rock Industries. For more information, see this link.

    “Seniors have a 2-way mentoring with youth of Hopewell Valley with teens offering computer help in return for learning lessons from the seniors, making powerful connections,” said Mayor Kuchinski.

    The second initiative Mayor Kuchinski addressed was a Hopewell Valley community center which would offer “added recreational opportunities and be a focal point for the Valley youth, seniors and all.” Kuchinski spoke about design work for the project that was undertaken this year and indicated that the Township is working with the Boroughs to that end. And thirdly, Kuchsinki touched on the need to explore next generation of recreation opportunities that should include indoor space and training for baseball.

    Pennington Borough Mayor Tony Persichilli sung high praise of the Municipal Alliance, “This is the finest organization I know!” Mayor Persichilli spoke about Pennington as a family-oriented community and about the Recreation Commission’s recent and upcoming events, and about the activities at the Pennington Library, including activities at Busy Town, an event for young members of the community based on the Richard Scarry book. Persichilli also spoke about the upcoming Pennington Holiday Walk and reminded the community that the event is hosted by the Pennington Business & Professionals Association, which raises money and pays for the event, including the snowflake decorations that illuminate the downtown all holiday season.

    Hopewell Valley Regional School District Superintendent Tom Smith introduced this year’s honorees, Nancy Barich and JoAnn Markiewicz. “Hopewell Valley is special and a lot of people give back, but two people in particular approached me to help HVRSD,” said Smith. “They are relentless cheerleaders who changed the face of the District.”

    Barich and Markiewicz were both honored as the Municipal Alliance Volunteers of the Year for their success in creating the Helpwell program, which provides citizens an opportunity to participate in the student education. Barish, in accepting the honor, spoke about the power of crowdsourcing and thanked her partner in Helpwell, which is now 8 years in existence. Markiewicz spoke about how rewarding the experience has been for her.

    Alan Axelrod, LCSW, a practicing psychotherapist and Zen Buddhist, was the guest speaker. Axelrod, through his practice, helps people, including the Hopewell Valley youth, who are suffering from many issues. His speech focused on relationships and the strength of interconnection.

    For more information about the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, please visit For information on how to volunteer for Helpwell, please visit this link.

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