Zachyra Rodriguez is a Bicultural-Bilingual Licensed Social Worker whose motto is “Making a difference in people’s lives”. Her passion for helping others has driven her to work with many individuals in different settings and backgrounds. “Zashi”, as she is well known by has been providing therapy to families, couples, individuals, and adolescents (with a specialty in teenage girls) for several years, utilizing various therapeutic approaches. Her extensive experience in working with families has provided the opportunity to develop programs and facilitate workshops, psychoeducational groups, parenting education, and mentorship programs. Her goal is to provide a warm and safe environment while helping clients work through their challenges towards the road of healing, recovery, and change.

Zashi earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Wilmington University and a Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University. She is also a Certified Marriage Specialist and holds a specialized Certificate in Family Development from Rutgers University.

One of her favorite quotes is “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” MLK



Maria received an MS in Counseling from Carin University and a BS from Rutgers University. She has experience in counseling married couples, Individuals, families, and groups. Maria also helps clients work through career exploration, self-esteem, and relational issues, communication, and conflict resolution as well as anxiety, and depression. She provides Christian counseling to clients looking to incorporate their Christian faith into the therapy process.

Her holistic and integrative approach to therapy includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Family Therapy, Reality Therapy, and Biblical Therapy. Maria’s therapy always includes challenges to apply to the client’s everyday life, in hopes that it will cause changed behavior and individual growth. Maria enjoys working with people looking simply to improve themselves and achieve the life they desire.

melanie pierce


Seeking to come alongside of those who are struggling through different phases of life, Melanie understands how difficult it can be to open up to someone new and considers it a privilege to be entrusted with what has brought each client to therapy.
Melanie is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW). She graduated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from Rutgers University with an area of emphasis in Mental and Behavioral Health with Children and Families. She has had experience in a variety of settings, including children and families, youth involved in the justice system, developmentally disabled youth, particularly on the Autism Spectrum, gender dysphoria, and more. She currently works with individuals and families who have experienced or are experiencing difficulties with, but not limited to, anxiety, behavioral issues, depression, grief, relationship issues, and self esteem, tailoring her approach to the unique needs of each client.

Alvin Smith at Mending Hearts Family Counseling


Alvin has earned his Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling and substance abuse through Grand Canyon University and is currently pursuing a second degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). Alvin has been married for 25 years and has 4 children and 9 grandchildren! Alvin is a retired vet with 26 years of service and is a Social Worker doing substance abuse and working with teen boys to young adults within the State of NJ. At Mending Hearts, Alvin provides counseling for individuals, couples, and families of diverse backgrounds. He is also trained to provide Christian counseling.

Alvin loves helping others find their purpose using a variety of frameworks including biblical principles and scripture upon request. His favorite quote is “When God gives you the dream, the only person who can stop your dream is you”! Live on purpose.
Alvin is the founder of Dare 2 be a Dreamer program for youth and young adults ages 13-18 which was inspired, and birth based on his life story. Alvin also is a mentor for the Pythagoreans growing and developing young boys ages 7 to 18 personally, socially, physically, and spiritually.


Life bears inherent stress and challenge with all of its moving parts. One of the greatest gifts is to partner with people like you to maneuver and manage those parts. I have a passion for strengthening families and for helping individuals develop meaningful purpose in their lives. With my passion, I bring over 10 years of professional counseling experience; an MA degree in counseling, and professional teaching experience in the practice of counseling. Together, let’s work on your life and make it more of what you want it to be.


Shanique is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) who obtained a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology from Montclair State University. She also obtained a Master of Social Work degree from Monmouth University. Shanique has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families. During her sessions, Shanique is very interested in learning each person’s story. She is excited to work with individuals to increase emotional awareness and implement the use of practical coping skills. Her work with each client is a unique and therapeutic experience. Shanique’s Christian faith allows her to use a holistic and strength-based approach to encourage healing and promote spiritual and psychological growth.

Christian at Mending Hearts Family Counseling


Christian DiMola is a graduate with an MS Counseling Degree from Cairn University and holds a BS in Business and Economics. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 19 years and 14-year-old twin sons. In his spare time, he enjoys basketball, working out and hiking.

Christian is a follower of Jesus and able to offer Christian counseling to those who request. He has a passion for bringing hope and healing to all who he encounters in his counseling sessions. Christian counsels married couples, individuals, children and groups. He particularly enjoys facilitating group therapy with adult males working through sexual addictions.

Christian believes that it is always important to “take a step back and enjoy the small things in life.


Shonda Reneé Brooks is a graduate of Liberty University, having obtained a MA in Human Services Counseling with a focus in Christian Ministries. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in Professional Counseling. Shonda recognizes that seeking help and making changes in life can be difficult, but she is committed to journeying with you through the pain and darkness of brokenness, back into the joy and light of wholeness, serving as a guide to help you reach your goals.

Shonda is experienced in counseling individuals, groups, families, and couples. She offers services to children, adolescents and adults, and she specializes in premarital and marital counseling, parenting and co-parenting, helping those with anxiety, depression, trauma, and separation due to divorce or loss of a loved one, job, or home. In addition, she also offers services to members of the LGBTQ community and those seeking help with anger management, career counseling, building social skills, and time management. She offers either a secular or Christian approach to counseling based on the desires of each individual, and she believes in the incorporation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness techniques to help each client reach their goals.

We may not always be able to change our situation, but what we can do is change ourselves for our situation. Allow Shonda to partner with you to bring about the positive change you’ve been looking for to take control of your life. It’s time for you to live, and to live to the fullest.

Margarita Bamber at Mending Hearts Family Counseling


Margarita Bamber’s career as a counselor began long before her enrollment at Cairn University’s MA in Counseling program. After receiving her BA in Special Education from the University of Puerto Rico, she spent 30 years helping students of all ages overcome adversity, trauma, as well as their own disabilities. While serving in that capacity, Margarita often took on the role of counselor, mentor, mediator, mother, and of course, educator. During her time at Cairn University, Margarita consistently excelled as a leader in the classroom and as a dedicated and empathetic therapist during her clinical experiences.

A wife of 28 years and mother of two adult children, Margarita also serves in the leadership of her church’s Marriage Ministry, conducting seminars on maintaining strong marriages using biblical foundations. A native Spanish speaker with an understanding of Latin culture, her bilingual abilities have allowed her to reach a wide range of communities in need of counseling. While counseling her clients, Margarita aims to utilize her extensive body of experience with the ultimate goal of addressing the clients’ individual needs, experiences, and strengths. Margarita provides Christian or secular individual counseling for teens and adults as well as couples counseling.

Lia Hannon at Mending Hearts Family Counseling


Life can be messy and at times we all struggle with how to put the pieces together in a way that allows us to truly thrive. Lia is a counselor who will come alongside you as you sort out, address, and improve the various issues life throws your way. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) who works with individuals and couples create a life in which they feel more competent and capable in navigating our internal and external struggles.

In addition to a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Rider University, she has experience in working with clients who wrestle with depression, anxiety, substance use, and self-esteem issues in both individual and group settings. Using a holistic approach that incorporates mindfulness and cognitive behavioral and humanistic approaches, Lia creates a space to help each person feel seen and heard, find new ways to cope, support growth and change, and create a life that is fulfilling and purposeful.

Lee Fowler at Mending Hearts Family Counseling


Lee Fowler, Licensed Social Worker in the State of NJ with 16 years’ experience in various positions, working with Women, Children and Families. Lee has a profound respect and passion for meaningful and effective social work. It allows her the opportunity to advocate, empower, provide guidance and be a support. Lee’s goals are to develop an organization to promote empowerment, support and encouragement for women who are going through life changing events, specifically in the areas of trauma, domestic violence and sexual assault, helping them to “Be the Hero of your own story”.

Lee’s daily reflection “I walk in my purpose of promoting Hope and Integrity with the spirit of Excellence” and a favorite quote” I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through” .
Lee earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Kean University and a Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University. She also holds a specialized certification in Violence Against Women from Rutgers University.

Lee’s personal pleasures include spending time with family, her relationship with God, music, dancing, reading and spending time with her pug. CJ

“Faith is Trusting God even when you don’t understand his plan”

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