News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director | Sara Sooy, Commissioner Deputy Director

Melonie Marano, Commissioner | Paul Drake, Commissioner | Doug Singleterry, Commissioner


April 12, 2021

Somerset County’s Hope & Healing to Present Free Virtual Programs for Children

‘Penelope the Powerful Parrot’ Helps Children Deal with COVID-Related Stress


SOMERVILLE, NJ – Join trained crisis counselors who will present a highly creative and interactive reading of “Penelope the Powerful Parrot” on April 14, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., via Zoom. Children and Families will enjoy this storytelling experience, which incorporates movement and the spoken word to deliver a message of hope.  The program teaches skills for managing pandemic stress and empowers children to feel seen and heard. The program is offered in English and Spanish.

“As we collectively navigate the anniversary of New Jersey’s COVID-19 lockdown, this is a vital time for us to come together and heal as a community, said Somerset County RHCHWC Executive Director Nicci Spinazzola. “‘Penelope The Powerful Parrot’ gives our families the opportunity to discuss their feelings and challenges and provides everyone a chance to find hope and healing in these uncertain times.”

To join “Penelope the Powerful Parrot” reading via Zoom, click on the following link:

Monthly readings will occur every Wednesday beginning April 14, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. To join Zoom, click on the following link:

The free reading events are funded by the FEMA/SAMHSA grant, and will only be offered while the grant is available.

Group organizations that are interested in “Penelope The Powerful Parrot” can contact Hope and Healing at 908-231-6414 or send an email to, or  visit the website


This program is sponsored by Somerset County Richard Hall Community Health and Wellness Center and the New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program (NJHHCCP).  The NJHHCCP is sponsored in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and is funded through a FEMA/SAMHSA grant.

Hope and Healing is a free crisis counseling program that is available to all Somerset County residents and employees who have been emotionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Crisis counselors conduct essential services through virtual meetings via Zoom, phone sessions and community partnerships. “Penelope The Powerful Parrot” is one of several initiatives to help residents manage pandemic-related stress.

Richard Hall Community Health & Wellness Center (RHCHWC) of Somerset County, through a joint Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant, delivers family-centered programming to help children mitigate the emotional stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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