Renee Gorman has been an FCPS elementary guidance counselor for more than 20 years. And while she loves her job, she knew more needed to be done for the kids in Fairfax County.
“I was hearing so many stories of kids with trauma and who were living in poverty. As a school counselor you only get 15 minutes with them, and I knew they needed more,” Gorman said. “I wanted to involve the community. Have people mentor kids and give them the resources which they need.” So in 2018, she created the non-profit She Believes in Me to further help children in the county.
She Believes in Me is run by Gorman and a few teachers and social workers based out of Herndon. While the organization started out serving just young girls, they now aim to help the entire family of these children. “We predominantly serve elementary children and their families,” Gorman explained. “We fill the gaps that schools cannot, as the school day is short. We serve every need of the child. We strive to create an extra boost for kids by providing mentorship and resources to help them carve out a successful path in life.”
With more than 300 volunteers helping serve in excess of 1,000 people every month, She Believes in Me has grown tremendously over the last three years. A local real estate broker even donated retail space to the non-profit in the Worldgate Centre in Herndon. With this space, the organization was able to have a place for children to not only visit, but to create a non-perishable food pantry. “We meet with groups on the site. Kids visit in small groups to work on life skills,” Gorman said.
She Believes in Me works hard to meet the growing and changing needs of the community. “When we first started, we were doing events like promoting healthy lifestyles and giving out hygiene kits and diaries. But since COVID we have focused more on basic needs like giving out food, tampons, shampoo, toothbrushes and snacks,” Gorman said. “We also deliver to the doorsteps of vulnerable people now, particularly those who do not have cars. We want to support kids holistically and emotionally.”
Being able to get out into the community and meet the needs of people is what keeps Gorman motivated. “Developing deep relationships and gaining the trust of the community to help and serve them is the most rewarding part,” Gorman said. “What sets us apart is we go to the doorsteps of families. It helps us get to know them and serve them at a deeper level.”
She Believes in Me also has an array of community partners which support the non-profit,including Giant Food, Floris United Methodist Church, Food for Others, Cornerstones and other corporate partners. “Our community partners help us fill the gap on needed items, such as resources for the families and kids,” Gorman said. “That’s how we make it. They each add a piece to the puzzle.”
While She Believes in Me has the support of many local groups, individuals in the county are also welcome and encouraged to volunteer and help the organization. “We are always accepting nonperishable food donations at our site (13019 Worldgate Drive, Herndon, VA 20170) between 10 a.m. to noon every day,” Gorman said. “People can also always donate or get involved through our website, as well.”
For more information and volunteer opportunities on She Believes in Me check out their website: https://shebelievesinme.org/