(July 3, 2019) Catherine Read sits down with She Believes in Me founder Renee Gorman to talk about her work in supporting young, vulnerable girls in her community. Lori Barnes, a volunteer who has been with the program since inception, also joins the show to talk about the importance of being a mentor, and giving these girls positive experiences and valuable skills.
Gorman is a school counselor in a community with many vulnerable children. Over the years, she became increasingly frustrated because she did not have the bandwidth during school hours to help support the young girls who were coming into her office with profound challenges. She wanted to do more, but needed to find a different approach to helping them work through their obstacles. She believed in these girls, and wanted to show them that they had a fan rooting for them.
The first step involved planning some positive programming to bring the girls together. Gorman put together a group of volunteers by reaching out to her professional and community connections. Her goal was show these young girls that there were people in their corner who wanted to help them. These workshops take place at her elementary school on Saturday mornings, and are always framed with a theme so that the girls have a valuable skill to bring home with them.
A few examples of topics include building self-esteem, developing healthy coping skills, recognizing inner beauty, and the importance of friendships. The workshops are free of charge, and Gorman simply advertises by word of mouth. They have become so popular that they attract approximately 160 girls a month, and are staffed with over 30 volunteers. These girls are looking for positive role models, and are thirsty for programs that speak to them.
Most importantly, the environment is warm and welcoming, and girls are made to feel special and important. Having enough volunteers to staff the program means that the girls who really need help, have an opportunity to share their struggles and reach out for support The girls come from diverse backgrounds and varied socioeconomic environments, and many have experienced trauma. Gorman’s goal is to ensure that they have an outlet to find support when they need it.
The She Believes in Me model has been so successful that Gorman would love to grow the program to additional schools. If you are interested in setting up a similar program in your neighborhood, you can reach out to them to find out about how to get started at [email protected]me.org