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2017 Annual Report

Download our 2017 Annual Report

A Call to Action: A Community Conversation About Our Kids

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Right in Our Backyard: The Drug Addiction Epidemic in Suburbia

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The Blunt Truth: The Effects of Marijuana on the Teen Brain parent workshop

Get the Facts on the Effects & Risks of Marijuana
Youth Services Panel Discussion on March 23

The Blunt Truth Effects of marijuana on the teenage brain flyer

Today, there are 25 states, including New Jersey, that have legalized medical marijuana. Many teens now view it as a safe recreational drug, but what are the facts? What effect does marijuana have on the developing teenage brain?

The county Office of Youth Services will host the panel discussion on Thursday, March 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Somerville Middle School, located at 51 West Cliff St. To register, visit http://tinyurl.com/theblunttruthpanel. Walk-ins welcome.

Topics will include the effects of marijuana on the teenage brain, law enforcement’s assessment of the local situation, consequences and recovery. Participating in the panel discussion will be Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, Professional Addiction Counselor Paul Lavella Jr., Somerville High School Psychologist Danielle Zurawiecki and Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Program Coordinator Ricki Arvesen.

This program is sponsored by the Somerset County Youth Services Commission, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, EmPoWER Somerset, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse and the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset.

Drug Trends: Weeding out the Hype

Drug Trends: Weeding Out the Hype

Workshop for Professionals

Friday, Feb. 26

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SOMERVILLE – Somerset County Freeholder Brian D. Levine invites parents, guardians and professionals who work with children and families to a workshop to learn about the latest drug abuse trends facing our youth today.

The program will be held Friday, Feb. 26, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the first floor conference room at the Somerset County Human Services Building, located at 27 Warren Street.  Parking is available in the adjacent parking deck. Registration and a light breakfast will be offered at
8:30 a.m.

Keynote speaker Michael Litterer will review the latest substance abuse trends and provide information about popular alternative drugs, including synthetic marijuana, Flakka, Molly and vaporization. Attendees also will learn about the damaging effects of these drugs, methods for identifying them and the impact our culture has on trends.

Michael Litterer is the Deputy Director of Prevention Links, a nonprofit organization that implements federal, state and local grants to provide prevention programs and recovery support services. He has 15 years of experience in the field of prevention and early intervention and is a national presenter on the topic.

This program is cosponsored by the Somerset County Youth Services Commission, Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset New Jersey, EmPoWER Somerset, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse and the Friends of Somerset County Youth.

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Andrea Clegg, Somerset County Youth Services, at (908) 704-6352 or clegg@co.somerset.nj.us.

The Anonymous People

EmPoWER Somerset is pleased to support Somerset County Providers Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in inviting the public to view “The Anonymous People” as part of the county’s proclamation of September as Recovery Month.

Tuesday, Sept. 29th

11:30 am to 2 pm 

Somerset County/Bridgewater Library

corner of North Bridge Street and Vogt Drive

Light refreshments and networking will begin at 11:30 am and the film will be shown at noon.  A panel discussion and question and answer session will be held immediately after the film.   Pre-registration is encouraged.

Register now

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Workshop on Narcan and Heroin

Saving Lives: Somerset County’s Multi-Agency Response to

Those Fighting Heroin Addiction

 Friday February 27, 2015

9:00am –11:30am

27 Warren Street, Somerville NJ 08876

First Floor Conference room

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Join us for an informative panel discussion on Narcan and Heroin featuring panelists:

Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano

Chief of Detectives Timothy Fitzgerald

Detective Sergeant David Whipple

Assistant Prosecutor John Ascione

Somerset Treatment Services’ Executive Director, Barbara Schlichting LCSW, LCADC, CPS

This workshop is sponsored in Partnership by Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, Somerset County Youth Services Commission, Somerset Treatment Services, EmPoWER Somerset and Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset County.

 Cost is $20 payable to Friends of Somerset County Youth

To register contact Andrea Clegg at clegg@co.somerset.nj.us

Includes light breakfast and 3 professional development credits

B-FUN Free Family Program

Black Family Unity Night

March 3, 2015 – April 14, 2015

Tuesday Evenings from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Franklin Middle School

415 Francis Street, Somerset, NJ 08873

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Join EmPoWER Somerset, Middle Earth, and the Student Assistance Program at Franklin Township Public Schools as they provide the state’s first Black Family Unity Night (B-FUN) program! B-FUN, also known as Strong African-American Families, is a 7-week, evidence-based program, designed to strengthen parent/youth communication skills and increase academic success in youth. The program helps to strengthen parents’/caregivers’ ability to find a balance between firm parenting and showing love and helps youth to develop healthy goals for the future. This program is exclusively for youth aged 10-14 and their parents and/or caregivers. B-FUN is open to all Somerset County families. Register for this fun, free, and enriching family program to get the tools, skills, and strategies to build stronger African-American families!


Incentives are available for families who complete the program.

To register, contact Abena Dakwahene at 908-722-4900 or abena@empowersomerset.com

SAAF Mission Statement Banner



Bound Brook School District Wins School Breakfast Challenge


SCHOOL BREAKFASTL to R: Kristen Schiro, Sally Hoben, Ruth Prothero, Mark Herzlich

Bound Brook School District recently received first place prize in the NJ School Breakfast Challenge sponsored by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, the New Jersey Education Association, Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign.  As a top winner of this honor, Bound Brook School District received a $5,000 grant and a visit from New York Giants Linebacker Mark Herzlich at an awards ceremony at Lafayette School in Bound Brook on October 7, 2014. At this event, Advocates for Children of New Jersey also released Food For Thought: 4th Annual New Jersey School Breakfast Report.

Bound Brook School District has been a participant in Coordinated School Health for five years, working closely with EmPoWER Somerset who oversees the program in Central Jersey as a grantee of the New Jersey Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Health Program. While 71% of district students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, only 16% were participating in the schools free and reduced breakfast program, offered before the start of the school day. This situation is not unique. According to the national Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), only 47 of 100 eligible students nationwide participate in federally-funded free and reduced breakfast programs.

Under the leadership of District Superintendent Daniel Gallagher, Bound Brook High School nurse Sally Hoben championed this effort. She saw a need in the district to offer universal breakfast. According to Hoben, “Kids are hungry all the time and they come to my office complaining of headaches and tiredness.”  Working closely with Pomptonian Food Service, administration, teachers, and EmPoWER Somerset, Hoben was able to address some initial concerns about breakfast taking too long or creating a mess in the classroom. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded, as classroom breakfast easily became part of the daily routine.

The benefit of breakfast outweighs any issues that may come up.  According to Kristen Schiro, EmPoWER Somerset Director of Health and Wellness, “There is a wealth of evidence on the benefits of offering a universal free breakfast after-the-bell program. Offering free breakfast to all students removes the stigma of being identified as ‘low income’ which often deters eligible students from participating. Participation also increases when breakfast is offered after the bell, making it more convenient and accessible. We are so pleased that Bound Brook School District has implemented this program!”

Since the district-wide adoption of this program in January of 2014 school breakfast participation has increased from just 211 students in September of 2013 to 1,402 in May of 2014 – a 564% increase. Each morning breakfast is delivered to the classroom for a large majority of the 1605 students enrolled in the Bound Brook school district.  As they walk through the classroom door, students grab a bag packed with whole grain cereal, low fat milk and fruit. On average 1,377 students receive free breakfast daily.

Building upon the success of universal breakfast after the bell, Bound Brook School District also initiated summer food service program in June of 2014.  This program successfully addresses a gap in service of summer food insecurity.  This daily summer breakfast and lunch program was a joint effort   with the Bound Brook School District, Pomptonian Food Service, and Bound Brook Recreation Department providing a total of 3,349 breakfasts and 2,941 lunches throughout the summer.

We are very proud of Bound Brook School District.  We hope many other schools will see the success Bound Brook has had and take the lead in adopting universal breakfast after the bell.

Strong African American Families program announced!

SAAF Mission Statement Banner


Monday Evenings 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

October 6th through November 17th

Middle Earth, 520 North Bridge Street, Bridgewater NJ 08807

All of us are concerned about the health and safety of our children, especially as they approach their teenage years. These are the years in which they become more independent and begin to make decisions for themselves. These decisions can affect their health, safety, and success as young adults. The Strong African-American Families (SAAF) Program, founded at the University of Georgia, is a seven-session, family-centered program designed to enhance the well-being of African-American families. The program hopes to strengthen parents’/caregivers’ ability to find a balance between firm parenting and showing love, help youth to develop healthy goals for the future and resist peer pressure related to risky behaviors, and support families in enhancing communication and support.  Caregivers and youth who participate in SAAF will enjoy a fun, family-centered program. There is only room for 10 families to sign up and benefit from this wonderful experience. Join EmPoWER Somerset and Middle Earth as they partner up to offer the state’s first SAAF program!

Click here to view the flyer

For more information or to register, contact Abena Dakwahene at 908-722-4900 or abena@empowersomerset.com