South River High School students will ‘paint town green’ for mental health awareness


SOUTH RIVER–In March of this year, the South River High School’s Future Healthcare Professionals Club canceled its “Paint the Town Green” campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, the club’s campaign is back on thanks to the Borough Council approving a resolution granting permission for the club to hang up green ribbons on borough property.

Paint the Town Green will spread awareness about mental health issues in October, according to South River High School Nurse and Club Advisor Bonnie Francione.

“We have received approval to continue with Paint the Town Green in order to raise awareness on mental health issues. Now, more than ever, is this campaign so important. According to CDC reports, 2 in 5 U.S. residents report struggling with mental health issues associated with COVID-19,” Francione said. “People in our community need to know there is help out there. Aside from just raising awareness of the issue, we are getting information out to the community with resources as to where they can go to get help.”

Francione said the students are eager to get started on their campaign and hope their efforts will help those in our community. They plan to run the campaign beginning this week.

The council approved the resolution on Oct. 19 during the council meeting via video conference.

Back in March, Francione said club co-Presidents Jillian Fernandes and Sara Ayad helped with the campaign. Student Summer DeFilippo was and is still running the campaign; however, Fernandes and Ayad have since graduated.

Currently, Francione said club members Jennifer De Bellis and Emily de Souza have taken over.

“The Future Healthcare Professionals Club is an open club for any student interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare field. Our goal within the FHPC is to empower these students as they strive to reach their goals in becoming healthcare professionals,” former club co-President Jillian Fernandes said. “Our members are involved in community-based volunteer opportunities. We visit hospitals, watch live surgeries, shadow healthcare professionals and participate in many fundraisers.”

Fernandes said the club has raised thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Association, American Heart Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“The club provides many opportunities for these students to be involved. We just recently ran a campaign in our school to raise awareness of human trafficking. Our students have all completed the Stop the Bleed program and last year we made gift baskets to deliver to the pediatric wing of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital,” Francione said. “Whether or not those that participate in the club decide to go into the healthcare field, they will hopefully come out of this club with a better understanding of their own career goals.”

Ayad said club members will be posting green ribbons and balloons around the borough.

“We will be asking local businesses and establishments for their support of the club’s efforts by helping us paint the town green. Brochures and other resources will be placed within the community,” Ayad said.

For more information about the club, visit

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].