Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes addresses the class of volunteers at Mercer County’s first Medical Reserve Corps graduation ceremony on April 17. Seated on the stage, front row from left: Freeholders Ann Cannon, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita and Lucylle Walter, and County Human Services Director Marygrace Billek; back row from left, incoming New Jersey MRC Coordinator Julie Petix, County Health Officer Sharon McNellis-Kissel and County MRC Coordinator Stephanie Mendelsohn. 
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes addresses the class of volunteers at Mercer County’s first Medical Reserve Corps graduation ceremony on April 17. Seated on the stage, front row from left: Freeholders Ann Cannon, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita and Lucylle Walter, and County Human Services Director Marygrace Billek; back row from left, incoming New Jersey MRC Coordinator Julie Petix, County Health Officer Sharon McNellis-Kissel and County MRC Coordinator Stephanie Mendelsohn.
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LAWRENCE, N.J. - Mercer County has a stronger public health force now that certificates have been awarded to the 29 members of the County’s first Medical Reserve Corps graduating class.

The graduates, 23 of whom attended the April 17 ceremony at the County’s Dempster Fire Training Academy in Lawrence, are professional medical and non-medical volunteers who have completed an intensive training regimen that prepared them to assist during a public health emergency. MRC is part of the national Citizen Corps initiative; there are MRC programs nationwide, including about two dozen in New Jersey.

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes told the graduates that MRC volunteers were on hand at the Boston Marathon on April 15 to assist runners who might have suffered fatigue or dehydration, and instead found themselves on the front lines of a terrorist attack that left several people dead and scores with severe injuries.

“While it is sometimes our first inclination to duck and cover, the MRC volunteers in Boston – both medical and non-medical – instead stepped forward,” Hughes said. “Their commitment to Boston was heroic. You too have stepped up for a great challenge and now you join the elite ranks of the Medical Reserve Corps.”

The MRC volunteers will supplement existing emergency and public health resources, working in collaboration with County partners such as the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Emergency Management and the Dempster Fire Academy.

“This level of collaboration serves to highlight the effort it takes to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Hughes said. “Like your comrades in Boston, you’ll be called on during times of stress or crisis, and you might sometimes face adverse conditions, but I believe you will be up for the challenge.

“I can’t express to you how grateful we are for the volunteer service we get from you and from all the volunteers in Mercer County. We could not duplicate in a million years with tax dollars what we get from you when you open up your hearts and your minds and your willingness to serve our great County.”

The MRC training program consisted of eight core classes such as Family/Personal Preparedness, Disaster Awareness and Psychological First Aid that were taught during the past year. The volunteer instructors included Jill Dinitz-Sklar, Michele Madiou, Scott Ellis, Vito Vacirca and Chuck McHugh. Stephanie Mendelsohn is the County’s MRC Coordinator and John Arulmohan serves as Assistant Coordinator.

Mercer County Freeholders Ann Cannon, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita and Lucylle Walter were on hand April 17 to honor the MRC graduates. Also taking part in the ceremony were County Director of Human Services Marygrace Billek, County Health Officer Sharon McNellis-Kissel; and incoming New Jersey MRC Coordinator Julie Petix.

Following are the Mercer County MRC graduates:
Maureen Adams, Lawrenceville; Mary Baird, Lawrenceville; Anthony Brickman, Lawrenceville; Jon Caparotta, Monroe; Arnold Chen, West Windsor; Kieanna Childs-Alexander, Hamilton; Bruce Darvas, Hamilton; Kathy Digaetano, Hopewell; Clara Douglas, East Windsor; James Fearon, West Windsor; Skye Gilmartin, Hightstown; Albert Grupper, East Windsor; Carol Holzer, Princeton; Carol Kientz, East Windsor; Antonia Lewis, Pennington; Tracy Livingston, Trenton; Osborn Livingston, Trenton; Anita Masiello, Hamilton; Charles McHugh, Princeton; Rebecca McMillen, Hamilton; Tamerra Moeller, West Windsor; Yasmeen Mukaddam, East Windsor; Carol Nicholas, Lawrenceville; Penny Parker, Hopewell; Connie Poor, Princeton; Hasan Rizvi, Lawrenceville; Nancy Szilagyi, Lawrenceville; Vito Vacirca, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; and David Weidner, Hamilton.
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